Part 2 out of 4
sense of the dramatic matched his daring.
But when the deed was done, and the two stood innocently on the
brightly lighted approach to the bridge, Mr. Traill had his
misgivings. A well-respected business man and church-member, he
felt uneasy to be at the mercy of a laddie who might be boastful.
"Geordie, if you tell onybody about this I'll have to give you a
"I wullna tell," Geordie reassured him. "It's no' so respectable,
an' syne ma mither'd gie me anither lickin', an' they'd gie me
twa more awfu' aces, an' black marks for a month, at Heriot's."
Word had been left at all the inns and carting offices about both
markets for the tenant of Cauldbrae farm to call at Mr. Traill's
place for Bobby. The man appeared Wednesday afternoon, driving a
big Clydesdale horse to a stout farm cart. The low-ceiled
dining-room suddenly shrank about the big-boned, long legged hill
man. The fact embarrassed him, as did also a voice cultivated out
of all proportion to town houses, by shouting to dogs and
shepherds on windy shoulders of the Pentlands.
"Hae ye got the dog wi' ye?"
Mr. Train pointed to Bobby, deep in a blissful, after dinner nap
under the settle.
The farmer breathed a sigh of relief, sat at a table, and ate a
frugal meal of bread and cheese. As roughly dressed as Auld Jock,
in a metal-buttoned greatcoat of hodden gray, a woolen bonnet,
and the shepherd's twofold plaid, he was a different species of
human being altogether. A long, lean, sinewy man of early middle
age, he had a smooth-shaven, bony jaw, far-seeing gray eyes under
furzy brows, and a shock of auburn hair. When he spoke, it was to
give bits out of his own experience.
"Thae terriers are usefu' eneugh on an ordinar' fairm an' i' the
toon to keep awa' the vermin, but I wadna gie a twa-penny-bit for
ane o' them on a sheep-fairm. There's a wee lassie at Cauldbrae
wha wants Bobby for a pet. It wasna richt for Auld Jock to win
'im awa' frae the bairn."
Mr. Traill's hand was lifted in rebuke. "Speak nae ill, man; Auld
The farmer's ruddy face blanched and he dropped his knife. "He's
no' buried so sane?"
"Ay, he's buried four days since in Greyfriars kirkyard, and
Bobby has slept every night on the auld man's grave."
"I'll juist tak' a leuk at the grave, moil, gin ye'll hae an ee
on the dog."
Mr. Traill cautioned him not to let the caretaker know that Bobby
had continued to sleep in the kirkyard, after having been put out
twice. The farmer was back in ten minutes, with a canny face that
defied reading. He lighted his short Dublin pipe and smoked it
out before he spoke again.
"It's ower grand for a puir auld shepherd body to be buried i'
"No' so grand as heaven, I'm thinking." Mr. Traill's response was
"Ay, an' we're a' coontin' on gangin' there; but it's a prood
thing to hae yer banes put awa' in Greyfriars, ance ye're through
"Nae doubt the gude auld man would rather be alive on the
Pentland braes than dead in Greyfriars."
"Ay," the farmer admitted. "He was fair fond o' the hills, an'
no' likin' the toon. An', moil, he was a wonder wi' the lambs.
He'd gang wi' a collie ower miles o' country in roarin' weather,
an' he'd aye fetch the lost sheep hame. The auld moil was nane so
weel furnished i' the heid, but bairnies and beasts were unco'
fond o' 'im. It wasna his fau't that Bobby was aye at his heels.
The lassie wad 'a' been after'im, gin 'er mither had permeeted
Mr. Traill asked him why he had let so valuable a man go, and the
farmer replied at once that he was getting old and could no
longer do the winter work. To any but a Scotchman brought up near
the sheep country this would have sounded hard, but Mr. Traill
knew that the farmers on the wild, tipped-up moors were
themselves hard pressed to meet rent and taxes. To keep a
shepherd incapacitated by age and liable to lose a flock in a
snow-storm, was to invite ruin. And presently the man showed,
unwittingly, how sweet a kernel the heart may lie under the shell
of sordid necessity.
"I didna ken the auld man was fair ill or he micht hae bided at
the fairm an' tak'n 'is ain time to dee at 'is ease."
As Bobby unrolled and stretched to an awakening, the farmer got
up, took him unaware and thrust him into a covered basket. He had
no intention of letting the little creature give him the slip
again. Bobby howled at the indignity, and struggled and tore at
the stout wickerwork. It went to Mr. Traill's heart to hear him,
and to see the gallant little dog so defenseless. He talked to
him through the latticed cover all the way out to the cart,
telling him Auld Jock meant for him to go home. At that beloved
name, Bobby dropped to the bottom of the basket and cried in such
a heartbroken way that tears stood in the landlord's eyes, and
even the farmer confessed to a sudden "cauld in 'is heid."
"I'd gie 'im to ye, mon, gin it wasna that the bit lassie wad
greet her bonny een oot gin I didna fetch 'im hame. Nae boot the
bit tyke wad 'a' deed gin ye hadna fed 'im."
"Eh, man, he'll no' bide with me, or I'd be bargaining for him.
And he'll no' be permitted to live in the kirkyard. I know
naething in this life more
pitiful than a masterless, hameless dog." And then, to delay the
moment of parting with Bobby, who stopped crying and began to
lick his hand in frantic appeal through a hole in the basket, Mr.
Traill asked how Bobby came by his name.
"It was a leddy o' the neeborhood o' Swanston. She cam' drivin'
by Cauldbrae i' her bit cart wi' shaggy Shetlands to it an'
stapped at the dairy for a drink o' buttermilk frae the kirn.
Syne she saw the sonsie puppy loupin' at Auld Jock's heels, bonny
as a poodle, but mair knowin'. The leddy gied me a poond note for
'im. I put 'im up on the seat, an' she said that noo she had a
smart Hieland groom to match 'er Hieland steeds, an' she flicked
the ponies wi' 'er whup. Syne the bit dog was on the airth an'
flyin' awa' doon the road like the deil was after 'im. An' the
leddy lauched an' lauched, an' went awa' wi'oot 'im. At the fut
o' the brae she was still lauchin', an' she ca'ed back: 'Gie 'im
the name o' Bobby, gude mon. He's left the plow-tail an's aff to
Edinburgh to mak' his fame an' fortune.' I didna ken what the
"Man, she meant he was like Bobby Burns."
Here was a literary flavor that gave added attraction to a man
who sat at the feet of the Scottish muses. The landlord sighed as
he went back to the doorway, and he stood there listening to the
clatter of the cart and rough-shod horse and to the mournful
howling of the little dog, until the sounds died away in Forest
Mr. Traill would have been surprised to know, perhaps, that the
confines of the city were scarcely passed before Bobby stopped
protesting and grieving and settled down patiently to more
profitable work. A human being thus kidnapped and carried away
would have been quite helpless. But Bobby fitted his mop of a
black muzzle into the largest hole of his wicker prison, and set
his useful little nose to gathering news of his whereabouts.
If it should happen to a dog in this day to be taken from Ye Olde
Greyfriars Dining-Rooms and carried southward out of Edinburgh
there would be two miles or more of city and suburban streets to
be traversed before coming to the open country. But a half
century or more ago one could stand at the upper gate of
Greyfriars kirkyard or Heriot's Hospital grounds and look down a
slope dotted with semi-rustic houses, a village or two and
water-mills, and then cultivated farms, all the way to a
stone-bridged burn and a toll-bar at the bottom of the valley.
This hillside was the ancient Burghmuir where King James
of old gathered a great host of Scots to march and fight and
perish on Flodden Field.
Bobby had not gone this way homeward before, and was puzzled by
the smell of prosperous little shops, and by the park-like odors
from college campuses to the east, and from the well-kept
residence park of George Square. But when the cart rattled across
Lauriston Place he picked up the familiar scents of milk and wool
from the cattle and sheep market, and then of cottage dooryards,
of turned furrows and of farmsteads.
The earth wears ever a threefold garment of beauty. The human
person usually manages to miss nearly everything but the
appearance of things. A few of us are so fortunate as to have
ears attuned to the harmonies woven on the wind by trees and
birds and water; but the tricky weft of odors that lies closest
of all, enfolding the very bosom of the earth, escapes us. A
little dog, traveling with his nose low, lives in another stratum
of the world, and experiences other pleasures than his master.
He has excitements that he does his best to share, and that send
him flying in pursuit of phantom clues.
From the top of the Burghmuir it was easy going to Bobby. The
snow had gone off in a thaw, releasing a multitude of autumnal
aromas. There was a smell of birch and beech buds sealed up in
gum, of berries clotted on the rowan-trees, and of balsam and
spice from plantations of Highland firs and larches. The babbling
water of the burn was scented with the dead bracken of glens down
which it foamed. Even the leafless hedges had their woody odors,
and stone dykes their musty smell of decaying mosses and lichens.
Bobby knew the pause at the toll-bar in the valley, and the mixed
odors of many passing horses and men, there. He knew the smells
of poultry and cheese at a dairy-farm; of hunting dogs and
riding-leathers at a sportsman's trysting inn, and of grist and
polluted water at a mill. And after passing the hilltop toll-bar
of Fairmilehead, dipping across a narrow valley and rounding the
base of a sentinel peak, many tame odors were left behind. At the
buildings of the large, scattered farms there were smells of
sheep, and dogs and barn yards. But, for the most part, after the
road began to climb over a high shoulder of the range, there was
just one wild tang of heather and gorse and fern, tingling with
salt air from the German Ocean.
When they reached Cauldbrae farm, high up on the slope, it was
entirely dark. Lights in the small, deep-set windows gave the
outlines of a low, steep-roofed, stone farm-house. Out of the
darkness a little wind blown figure of a lassie
fled down the brae to meet the cart, and an eager little voice,
as clear as a hill-bird's piping, cried out:
"Hae ye got ma ain Bobby, faither?"
"Ay, lassie, I fetched 'im hame," the farmer roared back, in his
Then the cart was stopped for the wee maid to scramble up over a
wheel, and there were sweet little sounds of kissing and muffled
little cuddlings under the warm plaid. When these soft
endearments had been attended to there was time for another
"May I haud wee Bobby, faither?"
"Nae, lassie, a bonny bit bairnie couldna haud 'im in 'er sma'
airms. Bobby's a' for gangin' awa' to leev in a grand kirkyaird
wi' Auld Jock."
A little gasp, and a wee sob, and an awed question: "Is gude
Auld Jock deid, daddy?"
Bobby heard it and answered with a mournful howl. The lassie
snuggled closer to the warm, beating heart, hid her eyes in the
rough plaid, and cried for Auld Jock and for the grieving little
"Niest to faither an' mither an' big brither Wattie I lo'e Auld
Jock an' Bobby." The bairnie's voice was smothered in the
plaidie. Because it was dark and none were by to see, the
reticent Scot could overflow in tender speech. His arm tightened
around this one little ewe lamb of the human fold on cold slope
farm. He comforted the child by telling her how they would mak'
it up to Bobby, and how very soon a wee dog forgets the keenest
sorrow and is happy again.
The sheep-dogs charged the cart with as deafening a clamor of
welcome as if a home-coming had never happened before, and raced
the horse across the level. The kitchen door flared open, a
sudden beacon to shepherds scattered afar on these upland billows
of heath. In a moment the basket was in the house, the door
snecked, and Bobby released on the hearth.
It was a beautiful, dark old kitchen, with a homely fire of peat
that glowed up to smoke-stained rafters. Soon it was full of
shepherds, come in to a supper of brose, cheese, milk and
bannocks. Sheep-dogs sprawled and dozed on the hearth, so that
the gude wife complained of their being underfoot. But she left
them undisturbed and stepped over them, for, tired as they were,
they would have to go out again to drive the sheep into the fold.
Humiliated by being brought home a prisoner, and grieving for the
forsaken grave in Greyfriars, Bobby crept away to a corner bench,
on which Auld Jock had always sat in humble self-effacement. He
lay down under it, and the little four
year-old lassie sat on the floor close beside him, understanding,
and sorry with him. Her rough brother Wattie teased her about
wanting her supper there on one plate with Bobby.
"I wadna gang daft aboot a bit dog, Elsie."
"Leave the bairn by 'er lane," commanded the farmer. The mither
patted the child's bright head, and wiped the tears from the
bluebell eyes. And there was a little sobbing confidence poured
into a sympathetic ear.
Bobby refused to eat at first, but by and by he thought better of
it. A little dog that has his life to live and his work to do
must have fuel to drive the throbbing engine of his tiny heart.
So Bobby very sensibly ate a good supper in the lassie's company
and, grateful for that and for her sympathy, submitted to her shy
petting. But after the shepherds and dogs were gone and the
farmer had come in again from an overseeing look about the place
the little dog got up, trotted to the door, and lay down by it.
The lassie followed him. With two small, plump hands she pushed
Bobby's silver veil back, held his muzzle and looked into his
sad, brown eyes.
"Oh, mither, mither, Bobby's greetin'," she cried.
"Nae, bonny wee, a sma' dog canna greet."
"Ay, he's greetin' sair!" A sudden, sweet little sound was
dropped on Bobby's head.
"Ye shouldna kiss the bit dog, bairnie. He isna like a human
"Ay, a wee kiss is gude for 'im. Faither, he greets so I canna
thole it." The child fled to comforting arms in the inglenook and
cried herself to sleep. The gude wife knitted, and the gude mon
smoked by the pleasant fire. The only sound in the room was the
ticking of the wag at the wa' clock, for burning peat makes no
noise at all, only a pungent whiff in the nostrils, the memory of
which gives a Scotch laddie abroad a fit of hamesickness. Bobby
lay very still and watchful by the door. The farmer served his
astonishing news in dramatic bits.
"Auld Jock's deid." Bobby stirred at that, and flattened out on
"Ay, the lassie told that, an' I wad hae kenned it by the dog. He
is greetin' by the ordinar'."
"An' he's buried i' the kirkyaird o' auld Greyfriars." Ah, that
fetched her! The gude wife dropped her knitting and stared at
"There's a gairdener, like at the country-hooses o' the gentry,
leevin' in a bit lodge by the gate. He has naethin' to do, ava,
but lock the gate at nicht, put the dogs oot, an' mak' the posies
bloom i' the simmer. Ay, it's a bonny place."
"It's ower grand for Auld Jock."
"Ye may weel say that. His bit grave isna so far frae the
martyrs' monument." When the grandeur of that had sunk in he went
on to other incredibilities.
Presently he began to chuckle. "There's a bit notice on the gate
that nae dogs are admittet, but Bobby's sleepit on Auld Jock's
grave ane--twa--three--fower nichts, an' the gairdener doesna ken
it, ava. He's a canny beastie."
"Ay, he is. Folk wull be comin' frae miles aroond juist to leuk
at thesperity bit. Ilka body aboot kens Auld Jock. It'll be
maist michty news to tell at the kirk on the Sabbath, that he's
buried i' Greyfriars."
Through all this talk Bobby had lain quietly by the door, in the
expectation that it would be unlatched. Impatient of delay, he
began to whimper and to scratch on the panel. The lassie opened
her blue eyes at that, scrambled down, and ran to him. Instantly
Bobby was up, tugging at her short little gown and begging to be
let out. When she clasped her chubby arms around his neck and
tried to comfort him he struggled free and set up a dreadful
"Hoots, Bobby, stap yer havers!" shouted the farmer.
"Eh, lassie, he'll deave us a'. We'll juist hae to put 'im i' the
byre wi' the coos for the nicht," cried the distracted mither.
"I want Bobby i' the bed wi' me. I'll cuddle 'im an' lo'e 'im
till he staps greetin'."
"Nae, bonny wee, he wullna stap." The farmer picked the child up
on one arm, gripped the dog under the other, and the gude wife
went before with a lantern, across the dark farmyard to the
cow-barn. When the stout door was unlatched there was a smell of
warm animals, of milk, and cured hay, and the sound of full,
contented breathings that should have brought a sense of
companionship to a grieving little creature.
"Bobby wullna be lanely here wi' the coos, bairnie, an' i' the
morn ye can tak' a bit rope an' haud it in a wee hand so he canna
brak awa', an' syne, in a day or twa, he'll be forgettin' Auld
Jock. Ay, ye'll hae grand times wi' the sonsie doggie, rinnin'
an' loupin' on the braes."
This argument was so convincing and so attractive that the little
maid dried her tears, kissed Bobby on the head again, and made a
bed of heather for him in a corner. But as they were leaving the
byre fresh doubts assailed her.
"He'll gang awa' gin ye dinna tie 'im snug the nicht, faither."
"Sic a fulish bairn! Wi' fower wa's aroond 'im, an' a roof to 'is
heid, an' a floor to 'is fut, hoo could a sma' dog mak' a way
It was a foolish notion, bred of fond anxiety, and so, reassured,
the child went happily back to the house and to rosy sleep in her
little closet bed.
Ah! here was a warm place in a cold world for Bobby. A
soft-hearted little mistress and merry playmate was here,
generous food, and human society of a kind that was very much to
a little farm dog's liking. Here was freedom--wide moors to
delight his scampering legs, adventures with rabbits, foxes,
hares and moor-fowl, and great spaces where no one's ears would
be offended by his loudest, longest barking. Besides, Auld Jock
had said, with his last breath, "Gang--awa'--hame--laddie!" It is
not to be supposed Bobby had forgotten that, since he remembered
and obeyed every other order of that beloved voice. But there,
self-interest, love of liberty, and the instinct of obedience,
even, sank into the abysses of the little creature's mind. Up to
the top rose the overmastering necessity of guarding the bit of
sacred earth that covered his master.
The byre was no sooner locked than Bobby began, in the pitch
darkness, to explore the walls. The single promise of escape that
was offered was an inch-wide crack under the door, where the
flooring stopped short and exposed a strip of earth. That would
have appalled any but a desperate little dog. The crack was so
small as to admit but one paw, at first, and the earth was packed
as hard as wood by generations of trampling cattle.
There he began to dig. He came of a breed of dogs used by farmers
and hunters to dig small, burrowing animals out of holes, a breed
whose courage and persistence know no limit. He dug patiently,
steadily, hour after hour, enlarging the hole by inches. Now and
then he had to stop to rest. When he was able to use both
forepaws he made encouraging progress; but when he had to reach
under the door, quite the length of his stretched legs, and drag
every bit of earth back into the byre, the task must have been
impossible to any little creature not urged by utter misery. But
Skye terriers have been known to labor with such fury that they
have perished of their own exertions. Bobby's nose sniffed
liberty long before he could squeeze his weasel-like body through
the tunnel. His back bruised and strained by the struggle through
a hole too small, he stood, trembling with exhaustion, in the
An opening door, a barking sheep-dog, the shuffle of the moving
flock, were signs that the farm day was beginning, although all
the stars had not faded out of the sky. A little flying shadow,
Bobby slipped out of the cow-yard, past the farm-house, and
literally tumbled down the brae. From one level to another he
dropped, several hundred feet in a very few minutes, and from the
clear air of the breezy hilltop to a nether world that was buried
fathoms deep in a sea-fog as white as milk.
Hidden in a deep fold of the spreading skirts of the range, and
some distance from the road, lay a pool, made by damming a burn,
and used, in the shearing season, for washing sheep. Surrounded
by brushy woods, and very damp and dark, at other seasons it was
deserted. Bobby found this secluded place with his nose, curled
up under a hazel thicket and fell sound asleep. And while he
slept, a nipping wind from the far, northern Highlands swooped
down on the mist and sent it flying out to sea. The Lowlands
cleared like magic. From the high point where Bobby lay the road
could be seen to fall, by short rises and long descents, all the
way to Edinburgh. From its crested ridge and flanking hills the
city trailed a dusky banner of smoke out over the fishing fleet
in the Firth.
A little dog cannot see such distant views. Bobby could only read
and follow the guide-posts of odors along the way. He had begun
the ascent to the toll-bar when he heard the clatter of a cart
and the pounding of hoofs behind him. He did not wait to learn if
this was the Cauldbrae farmer in pursuit. Certain knowledge on
that point was only to be gained at his peril. He sprang into the
shelter of a stone wall, scrambled over it, worked his way along
it a short distance, and disappeared into a brambly path that
skirted a burn in a woody dell.
Immediately the little dog was lost in an unexplored country. The
narrow glen was musical with springs, and the low growth was
undercut with a maze of rabbit runs, very distracting to a dog of
a hunting breed. Bobby knew, by much journeying with Auld Jock,
that running water is a natural highway. Sheep drift along the
lowest level until they find an outlet down some declivity, or up
some foaming steep, to new pastures.
But never before had Bobby found, above such a rustic brook, a
many chimneyed and gabled house of stone, set in a walled garden
and swathed in trees. Today, many would cross wide seas to look
upon Swanston cottage, in whose odorous old garden a whey-faced,
wistful-eyed laddie dreamed so many brave and laughing dreams.
It was only a farm-house then, fallen from a more romantic
history, and it had no attraction for Bobby. He merely sniffed at
dead vines of clematis, sleeping briar bushes, and very live,
bright hedges of holly, rounded a corner of its wall, and ran
into a group of lusty children romping on the brae, below the
very prettiest, thatch roofed and hill-sheltered hamlet within
many a mile of Edinboro' town. The bairns were lunching from
grimy, mittened hands, gypsy fashion, life being far too short
and playtime too brief for formal meals. Seeing them eating,
Bobby suddenly discovered that he was hungry. He rose before a
well-provided laddie and politely begged for a share of his meal.
Such an excited shouting of admiration and calling on mithers to
come and see the bonny wee dog was never before heard on Swanston
village green. Doors flew open and bareheaded women ran out. Then
the babies had to be brought, and the' old grandfaithers and
grandmithers. Everybody oh-ed and ah-ed and clapped hands, and
doubled up with laughter, for, a tempting bit held playfully just
out of reach, Bobby rose, again and again, jumped for it, and
chased a teasing laddie. Then he bethought him to roll over and
over, and to go through other winsome little tricks, as Auld Jock
had taught him to do, to win the reward. All this had one quite
unexpected result. A shrewd-eyed woman pounced upon Bobby and
"He's no' an ordinar' dog. Some leddy has lost her pet. I'll
juist shut 'im up, an' syne she'll pay a shullin' or twa to get
With a twist and a leap Bobby was gone. He scrambled straight up
the steep, thorn-clad wall of the glen, where no laddie could
follow, and was over the crest. It was a narrow escape, made by
terrific effort. His little heart pounding with exhaustion and
alarm, he hid under a whin bush to get his breath and strength.
The sheltered dell was windless, but here a stiff breeze blew.
Suddenly shifting a point, the wind brought to the little dog's
nose a whiff of the acrid coal smoke of Edinburgh three miles
Straight as an arrow he ran across country, over roadway and
wall, plowed fields and rippling burns. He scrambled under hedges
and dashed across farmsteads and cottage gardens. As he neared
the city the hour bells aided him, for the Skye terrier is keen
of hearing. It was growing dark when he climbed up the last bank
and gained Lauriston Place. There he picked up the odors of milk
and wool, and the damp smell of the kirkyard.
Now for something comforting to put into his famished little
body. A night and a day of exhausting work, of anxiety and grief,
had used up the last ounce of fuel. Bobby raced down Forest Road
and turned the slight angle into Greyfriars Place. The lamp
lighter's progress toward the bridge was marked by the double row
of lamps that bloomed, one after one, on the dusk. The little dog
had come to the steps of Mr. Traill's place, and lifted himself
to scratch on the door, when the bugle began to blow. He dropped
with the first note and dashed to the kirkyard gate.
None too soon! Mr. Brown was setting the little wicket gate
inside, against the wall. In the instant his back was turned,
Bobby slipped through. After nightfall, when the caretaker had
made his rounds, he came out from under the fallen table-tomb of
Mistress Jean Grant.
Lights appeared at the rear windows of the tenements, and
families sat at supper. It was snell weather again, the sky dark
with threat of snow, and the windows were all closed. But with a
sharp bark beneath the lowest of them Bobby could have made his
presence and his wants known. He watched the people eating,
sitting wistfully about on his haunches here and there, but
remaining silent. By and by there were sounds of crying babies,
of crockery being washed, and the ringing of church bells far and
near. Then the lights were extinguished, and huge bulks of
shadow, of tenements and kirk, engulfed the kirkyard.
When Bobby lay down on Auld Jock's grave, pellets of frozen snow
were falling and the air had hardened toward frost.
Sleep alone goes far to revive a little dog, and fasting sharpens
the wits. Bobby was so tired that he slept soundly, but so hungry
that he woke early, and instantly alert to his situation. It was
so very early of a dark winter morning that not even the sparrows
were out foraging in the kirkyard for dry seeds. The drum and
bugle had not been sounded from the Castle when the milk and
dustman's carts began to clatter over the frozen streets. With
the first hint of dawn stout fishwives, who had tramped all the
way in from the piers of Newhaven with heavily laden creels on
their heads, were lustily crying their "caller herrin'." Soon
fagot men began to call up the courts of tenements, where fuel
was bought by the scant bundle: "Are ye cauld?"
Many a human waif in the tall buildings about the lower end of
Greyfriars kirkyard was cold, even in bed, but, in his thick
underjacket of fleece, Bobby was as warm as a plate of breakfast
toast. With a vigorous shaking he broke and scattered the crust
of snow that burdened his shaggy thatch. Then he lay down on the
grave again, with his nose on his paws. Urgent matters occupied
the little dog's mind. To deal with these affairs he had the long
head of the canniest Scot, wide and high between. the ears, and a
muzzle as determined as a little steel trap. Small and forlorn as
he was, courage, resource and purpose marked him.
As soon as the door of the caretaker's lodge opened he would have
to creep under the fallen slab again. To lie in such a cramped
position, hour after hour, day after day, was enough to break the
spirit of any warm blooded creature that lives. It was an
exquisite form of torture not long to be endured. And to get his
single meal a day at Mr. Traill's place Bobby had to watch for
the chance opening of the wicket to slip in and out like a thief.
The furtive life is not only perilous, it outrages every feeling
of an honest dog. It is hard for him to live at all without the
approval and the cordial consent of men. The human order hostile,
he quickly loses his self-respect and drops to the pariah class.
Already wee Bobby had the look of the neglected. His pretty coat
was dirty and unkempt. In his run across country, leaves, twigs
and burrs had become entangled in his long hair, and his legs and
underparts were caked with mire.
Instinctively any dog struggles to escape the fate of the
outcast. By every art he possesses he ingratiates himself with
men. One that has his usefulness in the human scheme of things
often is able to make his own terms with life, to win the niche
of his choice. Bobby's one talent that was of practical value to
society was his hunting instinct for every small animal that
burrows and prowls and takes toll of men's labor. In Greyfriars
kirkyard was work to be done that he could do. For quite three
centuries rats and mice had multiplied in this old sanctuary
garden from which cats were chased and dogs excluded. Every
breeze that blew carried challenges to Bobby's offended nose.
Now, in the crisp gray dawn, a big rat came out into the open and
darted here and there over the powdering of dry snow that frosted
A leap, as if released from a spring, and Bobby captured it. A
snap of his long muzzle, a jerk of his stoutly set head, and the
victim hung limp from his grip. And he followed another deeply
seated instinct when he carried the slain to Auld Jock's grave.
Trophies of the chase were always to be laid at the feet of the
"Gude dog! eh, but ye're a bonny wee fechter!" Auld Jock had
always said after such an exploit; and Bobby had been petted and
praised until he nearly wagged his crested tail off with
happiness and pride. Then he had been given some choice tidbit of
food as a reward for his prowess. The farmer of Cauldbrae had on
such occasions admitted that Bobby might be of use about barn and
dairy, and Mr. Traill had commended his capture of prowlers in
the dining-room. But Bobby was "ower young" and had not been "put
to the vermin" as a definite business in life. He caught a rat,
now and then, as he chased rabbits, merely as a diversion. When
he had caught this one he lay down again. But after a time he got
up deliberately and trotted down to the encircling line of old
courtyarded tombs. There were nooks and crannies between and
behind these along the wall into which the caretaker could not
penetrate with sickle, rake and spade, that formed sheltered
runways for rodents.
A long, low, weasel-like dog that could flatten himself on the
ground, Bobby squeezed between railings and pedestals, scrambled
over fallen fragments of sculptured urns, trumpets, angels'
wings, altars, skull and cross-bones, and Latin inscribed
scrolls. He went on his stomach under holly and laurel shrubs,
burdocks,thistles, and tangled, dead vines. Here and there he lay
in such rubbish as motionless as the effigies careen on marble
biers. With the growing light grew the heap of the slain on Auld
Having done his best, Bobby lay down again, worse in appearance
than before, but with a stouter heart. He did not stir, although
the shadows fled, the sepulchers stood up around the field of
snow, and slabs and shafts camped in ranks on the slope. Smoke
began to curl up from high, clustered chimney-pots; shutters were
opened, and scantily clad women had hurried errands on decaying
gallery and reeling stairway. Suddenly the Castle turrets were
gilded with pale sunshine, and all the little cells in the tall,
old houses hummed and buzzed and clacked with life. The
University bell called scattered students to morning prayers.
Pinched and elfish faces of children appeared at the windows
overlooking the kirkyard. The sparrows had instant news of that,
and the little winged beggars fluttered up to the lintels of
certain deep-set casements, where ill-fed bairns scattered
breakfasts of crumbs.
Bobby watched all this without a movement. He shivered when the
lodge door was heard to open and shut and heavy footsteps
crunched on the gravel and snow around the church. "Juist fair
silly" on his quaking legs he stood up, head and tail drooped.
But he held his ground bravely, and when the caretaker sighted
him he trotted to meet the man, lifted himself on his hind
legs, his short, shagged fore paws on his breast, begging
attention and indulgence. Then he sprawled across the great
boots, asking pardon for the liberty he was taking. At last, all
in a flash, he darted back to the grave, sniffed at it, and stood
again, head up, plumy tail crested, all excitement, as much as to
"Come awa' ower, man, an' leuk at the brave sicht."
If he could have barked, his meaning would have carried more
convincingly, but he "hauded 'is gab" loyally. And, alas, the
caretaker was not to be beguiled. Mr. Traill had told him Bobby
had been sent back to the hill farm, but here he was,
"perseestent" little rascal, and making some sort of bid for the
man's favor. Mr. Brown took his pipe out of his mouth in
surprised exasperation, and glowered at the dog.
"Gang awa' oot wi' ye!"
But Bobby was back again coaxing undauntedly, abasing himself
before the angry man, insisting that he had something of interest
to show. The caretaker was literally badgered and cajoled into
following him. One glance at the formidable heap of the slain,
and Mr. Brown dropped to a seat on the slab.
"Preserve us a'!"
He stared from the little dog to his victims,
turned them over with his stout stick and counted them, and
stared again. Bobby fixed his pleading eyes on the man and stood
at strained attention while fate hung in the balance.
"Guile wark! Guile wark! A braw doggie, an' an unco' fechter.
Losh! but ye're a deil o' a bit dog!"
All this was said in a tone of astonished comment, so
non-committal of feeling that Bobby's tail began to twitch in the
stress of his anxiety. When the caretaker spoke again, after a
long, puzzled frowning, it was to express a very human
bewilderment and irritation.
"Noo, what am I gangin' to do wi' ye?"
Ah, that was encouraging! A moment before, he had ordered Bobby
out in no uncertain tone. After another moment he referred the
question to a higher court.
"Jeanie, woman, come awa' oot a meenit, wull ye?"
A hasty pattering of carpet-slippered feet on the creaking snow,
around the kirk, and there was the neatest little apple-cheeked
peasant woman in Scotland, "snod" from her smooth, frosted hair,
spotless linen mutch and lawn kerchief, to her white, lamb's wool
"Here's the bit dog I was tellin' ye aboot; an' see for yersel'
what he's done noo."
"The wee beastie couldna do a' that! It's as muckle as his ain
wecht in fou' vermin!" she cried.
"Ay, he did. Thae terriers are sperity, by the ordinar'. Ane o'
them, let into the corn exchange a murky nicht, killed saxty in
ten meenits, an' had to be dragged awa' by the tail. Noo, what I
am gangin' to do wi' the takin' bit I dinna ken."
It is very certain that simple Mistress Jean Brown had never
heard of Mr. Dick's advice to Miss Betsy Trotwood on the occasion
when young David Copperfield presented himself, travel-stained
and weary, before his good aunt. But out of her experience of
wholesome living she brought forth the same wise opinion.
"I'd gie him a gude washin' first of a', Jamie. He leuks like
some puir, gaen-aboot dog." And she drew her short, blue-stuff
gown back from Bobby's grateful attentions.
Mr. Brown slapped his corduroy-breeked knee and nodded his
grizzled head. "Richt ye are. It's maist michty, noo, I wadna
think o' that. When I was leevin' as an under gairdener wi' a
laird i' Argyleshire I was aye aboot the kennels wi' the gillies.
That was lang syne. The sma' terrier dogs were aye washed i'
claes tubs wi' warm water an' soap. Come awa', Bobby."
The caretaker got up stiffly, for such snell weather was apt to
give him twinges in his joints. In him a youthful enthusiasm for
dogs had suddenly revived. Besides, although he would have denied
it, he was relieved at having the main issue, as to what was to
be done with this four-footed trespasser, side-tracked for a
time. Bobby followed him to the lodge at an eager trot, and he
dutifully hopped into the bath that was set on the rear doorstep.
Mr. Brown scrubbed him vigorously, and Bobby splashed and swam
and churned the soapy water to foam. He scrambled out at once,
when told to do so, and submitted to being dried with a big,
tow-linen towel. This was all a delightful novelty to Bobby.
Heretofore he had gone into any convenient tam or burn to swim,
and then dried himself by rolling on the heather and running
before the wind. Now he was bundled up ignominiously in an old
flannel petticoat, carried across a sanded kitchen floor and laid
on a warm hearth.
"Doon wi' ye!" was the gruff order. Bobby turned around and
around on the hearth, like some little wild dog making a bed in
the jungle, before he obeyed. He kept very still during the
reading of a chapter and the singing of a Psalm, as he had been
taught to do at the farm by many a reminder from Auld Jock's
boot. And he kept away from the breakfast-table, although the
walls of his stomach were collapsed as flat as the sides of an
It was such a clean, shining little kitchen, with the scoured
deal table, chairs and cupboard, and the firelight from the grate
winked so on pewter mugs, copper kettle, willow-patterned plates
and diamond panes, that Bobby blinked too. Flowers bloomed in
pots on the casement sills, and a little brown skylark sang,
fluttering as if it would soar, in a gilded cage. After the
morning meal Mr. Brown lighted his pipe and put on his bonnet to
go out again, when he bethought him that Bobby might be needing
something to eat.
"What'll ye gie 'im, Jeanie? At the laird's, noo, the terriers
were aye fed wi' bits o' livers an' cheese an' moor fowls' eggs,
an' sic-like, fried."
"Havers, Jamie, it's no' releegious to feed a dog better than
puir bairns. He'll do fair weel wi' table-scraps."
She set down a plate with a spoonful of porridge on it, a cold
potato, some bread crusts, and the leavings of a broiled caller
herrin'. It was a generous breakfast for so small a dog, but
Bobby had been without food for quite forty hours, and had done
an amazing amount of work in the meantime. When he had eaten all
of it, he was still hungry. As a polite hint, he polished the
empty plate with his pink tongue and looked up expectantly; but
the best-intentioned people, if they have had little to do with
dogs, cannot read such signs.
"Ye needna lick the posies aff," the wifie said, good humoredly,
as she picked the plate up to wash it. She thought to put down a
tin basin of water. Bobby lapped a' it so eagerly, yet so
daintily, that she added: "He's a weel-broucht-up tyke, Jamie."
"He is so. Noo, we'll see hoo weel he can leuk." In a shamefaced
way he fetched from a tool-box a long-forgotten, strong little
currycomb, such as is used on shaggy Shetland ponies. With that
he proceeded to give Bobby such a grooming as he had never had
before. It was a painful operation, for his thatch was a stubborn
mat of crisp waves and knotty tangles to his plumy tail and down
to his feathered toes. He braced himself and took the punishment
without a whimper, and when it was done he stood cascaded with
dark-silver ripples nearly to the floor.
"The bonny wee!" cried Mistress Jeanie. "I canna tak' ma twa een
aff o' 'im."
"Ay, he's bonny by the ordinar'. It wad be grand, noo, gin the
meenister'd fancy 'im an' tak' 'im into the manse."
The wifie considered this ruefully. "Jamie, I was wishin' ye
didna hae to--"
But what she wished he did not have to do, Mr. Brown did not stop
to hear. He suddenly clapped his bonnet on his head and went out.
He had an urgent errand on High Street, to buy grass and flower
seeds and tools that would certainly be needed in April. It took
him an hour or more of shrewd looking about for the best
bargains, in a swarm of little barnacle and cellar shops, to
spend a few of the kirk's shillings. When he found himself, to
his disgust, looking at a nail studded collar for a little dog he
called himself a "doited auld fule," and tramped back across the
At the kirkyard gate he stopped and read the notice through
twice: "No dogs permitted." That was as plain as "Thou shalt
not." To the pious caretaker and trained servant it was the
eleventh commandment. He shook his head, sighed, and went in to
dinner. Bobby was not in the house, and the master of it avoided
inquiring for him. He also avoided the wifie's wistful eye, and
he busied himself inside the two kirks all the afternoon.
Because he was in the kirks, and the beautiful memorial windows
of stained glass were not for the purpose of looking out, he did
not see a dramatic incident that occurred in the kirkyard after
three o'clock in the afternoon. The prelude to it really began
with the report of the timegun at one. Bobby had insisted upon
being let out of the lodge kitchen, and had spent the morning
near Auld Jock's grave and in nosing about neighboring slabs and
thorn bushes. When the time-gun boomed he trotted to the gate
quite openly and waited there inside the wicket.
In such nipping weather there were no visitors to the kirkyard
and the gate was not opened. The music bells ran the gamut of old
Scotch airs and ceased, while he sat there and waited patiently.
Once a man stopped to look at the little dog, and Bobby promptly
jumped on the wicket, plainly begging to have it unlatched. But
the passer-by decided that some lady had left her pet behind, and
would return for him. So he patted the attractive little
Highlander on the head and went on about his business.
Discouraged by the unpromising outlook for dinner that day, Bobby
went slowly back to the grave. Twice afterward he made hopeful
pilgrimages to the gate. For diversion he fell noiselessly upon a
prowling cat and chased it out of the kirkyard. At last he sat
upon the table-tomb. He had escaped notice from the tenements all
the morning because the view from most of the windows was blocked
by washings, hung out and dripping, then freezing and clapping
against the old tombs. It was half-past three o'clock when a
tiny, wizened face popped out of one of the rude little windows
in the decayed Cunzie Neuk at the bottom of Candlemakers Row.
Crippled Tammy Barr called out in shrill excitement
"Ailie! O-o-oh, Ailie Lindsey, there's the wee doggie!"
"Whaur?" The lassie's elfin face looked out from a low, rear
window of the Candlemakers' Guildhall at the top of the Row.
"On the stane by the kirk wa'."
"I see 'im noo. Isna he bonny? I wish Bobby could bide i' the
kirkyaird, but they wadna let 'im. Tammy, gin ye tak' 'im up to
Maister Traill, he'll gie ye the shullin'!"
"I couldna tak' 'im by ma lane," was the pathetic confession.
"Wad ye gang wi' me, Ailie? Ye could drap ower an' catch 'im, an'
I could come by the gate. Faither made me some grand crutches
frae an' auld chair back."
Tears suddenly drowned the lassie's blue eyes and ran down her
pinched little cheeks. "Nae, I couldna gang. I haena ony shoon to
"It's no' so cauld. Gin I had twa guile feet I could gang the bit
way wi'oot shoon."
"I ken it isna so cauld," Ailie admitted, "but for a lassie it's
no' respectable to gang to a grand place barefeeted."
That was undeniable, and the eager children fell silent and
tearful. But oh, necessity is the mother of makeshifts among the
poor! Suddenly Ailie cried: "Bide a meenit, Tammy," and vanished.
Presently she was back, with the difficulty overcome. "Grannie
says I can wear her shoon. She doesna wear 'em i' the hoose,
"I'll gie ye a saxpence, Ailie," offered Tammy.
The sordid bargain shocked no feeling of these tenement bairns
nor marred their pleasure in the adventure. Presently there was a
tap-tap-tapping of crutches on the heavy gallery that fronted the
Cunzie Neuk, and on the stairs that descended from it to the
steep and curving row. The lassie draped a fragment of an old
plaid deftly over her thinly clad shoulders, climbed through the
window, to the pediment of the classic tomb that blocked it, and
dropped into the kirkyard. To her surprise Bobby was there at her
feet, frantically wagging his tail, and he raced her to the gate.
She caught him on the steps of the dining room, and held his
wriggling little body fast until Tammy came up.
It was a tumultuous little group that burst in upon the
astonished landlord: barking fluff of an excited dog, flying
lassie in clattering big shoes, and wee, tapping Tammy. They
literally fell upon him when he was engaged in counting out his
"Whaur did you find him?" asked Mr Traill in bewilderment.
Six-year-old Ailie slipped a shy finger into her mouth, and
looked to the very much more mature five-year old crippled laddie
"He was i' the kirkyaird."
"Sittin' upon a stane by 'is ainsel'," added Ailie.
"An' no' hidin', ava. It was juist like he was leevin' there."
"An' syne, when I drapped oot o' the window he louped at me so
bonny, an' I couldna keep up wi' 'im to the gate."
Wonder of wonders! It was plain that Bobby had made his way back
from the hill farm and, from his appearance and manner, as well
as from this account, it was equally clear that some happy change
in his fortunes had taken place. He sat up on his haunches
listening with interest and lolling his tongue! And that was a
thing the bereft little dog had not done since his master died.
In the first pause in the talk he rose and begged for his dinner.
"Noo, what am I to pay? It took ane, twa, three o' ye to fetch
ane sma' dog. A saxpence for the laddie, a saxpence for the
lassie, an' a bit meal for Bobby."
While he was putting the plate down under the settle Mr. Traill
heard an amazed whisper "He's gien the doggie a chuckie bane."
The landlord switched the plate from under Bobby's protesting
little muzzle and turned to catch the hungry look on the faces of
the children. Chicken, indeed, for a little dog, before these
ill-fed bairns! Mr. Traill had a brilliant thought.
"Preserve me! I didna think to eat ma ain dinner. I hae so muckle
to eat I canna eat it by ma lane."
The idea of having too much to eat was so preposterously funny
that Tammy doubled up with laughter and nearly tumbled over his
crutches. Mr. Traill set him upright again.
"Did ye ever gang on a picnic, bairnies?" And what was a picnic?
Tammy ventured the opinion that it might be some kind of a cart
for lame laddies to ride in.
"A picnic is when ye gang gypsying in the summer," Mr. Traill
explained. "Ye walk to a bonny green brae, an' sit doon under a
hawthorntree a' covered wi' posies, by a babblin' burn, an' ye
eat oot o' yer ain hands. An' syne ye hear a throstle or a
redbreast sing an' a saucy blackbird whustle."
"Could ye tak' a dog?" asked Tammy.
"Ye could that, mannie. It's no' a picnic wi'oot a sonsie doggie
to rin on the brae wi' ye."
"Oh!" Ailie's blue eyes slowly widened in her pallid little face.
"But ye couldna hae a picnic i' the snawy weather."
"Ay, ye could. It's the bonniest of a' when ye're no' expectin'
it. I aye keep a picnic hidden i' the ingleneuk aboon." He
suddenly swung Tammy up on his shoulder, and calling, gaily,
"Come awa'," went out the door, through another beside it, and up
a flight of stairs to the dining-room above. A fire burned there
in the grate, the tables were covered with linen, and there were
blooming flowers in pots in the front windows. Patrons from the
University, and the well-to-do streets and squares to the south
and east, made of this upper room a sort of club in the evenings.
At four o'clock in the afternoon there were no guests.
"Noo," said Mr. Traill, when his overcome little guests were
seated at a table in the inglenook. "A picnic is whaur ye hae
onything ye fancy to eat; gude things ye wullna be haein' ilka
day, ye mind." He rang a call-bell, and a grinning waiter laddie
popped up so quickly the lassie caught her breath.
"Eneugh broo for aince," said Tammy.
"Porridge that isna burned," suggested Ailie. Such pitiful
poverty of the imagination!
"Nae, it's bread, an' butter, an' strawberry jam, an' tea wi'
cream an' sugar, an' cauld chuckie at a snawy picnic," announced
Mr. Traill. And there it was, served very quickly and silently,
after some manner of magic. Bobby had to stand on the fourth
chair to eat his dinner, and when he had despatched it he sat up
and viewed the little party with the liveliest interest and
"Tammy," Ailie said, when her shyness had worn off, "it's like
the grand tales ye mak' up i' yer heid."
"Preserve me! Does the wee mannie mak' up stories?"
"It's juist fulish things, aboot haein' mair to eat, an' a sonsie
doggie to play wi', an' twa gude legs to tak' me aboot. I think
'em oot at nicht when I canna sleep."
"Eh, laddie, do ye noo?" Mr. Traill suddenly had a terrible
"cauld in 'is heid," that made his eyes water. "Hoo auld are ye?"
"Five, gangin' on sax."
"Losh! I thoucht ye war fifty, gangin' on saxty." Laughter saved
the day from overmoist emotions. And presently Mr. Traill was
able to say in a business-like tone:
"We'll hae to tak' ye to the infirmary. An' if they canna mak'
yer legs ower ye'll get a pair o' braw crutches that are the
niest thing to gude legs. An' syne we'll see if there's no' a
place in Heriot's for a sma' laddie that mak's up bonny tales o'
his ain in the murky auld Cunzie Neuk."
Now the gay little feast was eaten, and early dark was coming on.
If Mr. Traill had entertained the hope that Bobby had recovered
from his grief and might remain with him, he was disappointed.
The little dog began to be restless. He ran to the door and back;
he begged, and he scratched on the panel. And then he yelped! As
soon as the door was opened he shot out of it, tumbled down the
stairway and waited at the foot impatiently for the lower door to
be unlatched. Ailie's thin, swift legs were left behind when
Bobby dashed to the kirkyard.
Tammy followed at a surprising pace on his rude crutches, and Mr.
Traill brought up the rear. If the children could not smuggle the
frantic little dog inside, the landlord meant to put him over the
wicket and, if necessary, to have it out with the caretaker, and
then to go before the kirk minister and officers with his plea.
He was still concealed by the buildings, from the alcoved gate,
when he heard Mr. Brown's gruff voice taking the frightened
bairns to task.
"Gie me the dog; an' dinna ye tak' him oot ony mair wi'oot
The children fled. Peeping around the angle of the Book Hunter's
Stall, Mr. Traill saw the caretaker lift Bobby over the wicket to
his arms, and start with him toward the lodge. He was perishing
with curiosity about this astonishing change of front on the part
of Mr. Brown, but it was a delicate situation in which it seemed
best not to meddle. He went slowly back to the restaurant,
begrudging Bobby to the luckier caretaker.
His envy was premature. Mr. Brown set Bobby inside the lodge
kitchen and announced briefly to his wife: "The bit dog wull
sleep i' the hoose the nicht." And he went about some business at
the upper end of the kirkyard. When he came in an hour later
Bobby was gone.
"I couldna keep 'im in, Jamie. He didna blatter, but he greeted
so sair to be let oot, an syne he scratched a' the paint aff the
Mr. Brown glowered at her in exasperation. "Woman, they'll hae me
up afore kirk sessions for brakin' the rules, an' syne they'll
turn us a' oot i' the cauld warld togither."
He slammed the door and stormed angrily around the kirk. It was
still light enough to see the little creature on the snowy mound
and, indeed, Bobby got up and wagged his tail in friendly
greeting. At that all the bluster went out of the man, and he
began to argue the matter with the dog.
"Come awa', Bobby. Ye canna be leevin' i' the kirkyaird."
Bobby was of a different opinion. He turned around and around,
thoughtfully, several times, then sat up on the grave. Entirely
willing to spend a social hour with his new friend, he fixed his
eyes hospitably upon him. Mr. Brown dropped to the slab, lighted
his pipe, and smoked for a time, to compose his agitated mind. By
and by he got up briskly and stooped to lift the little dog. At
that Bobby dug his claws in the clods and resisted with all his
muscular body and determined mind. He clung to the grave so
desperately, and looked up so piteously, that the caretaker
surrendered. And there was snod Mistress Jeanie, forgetting her
spotless gown and kneeling in the snow.
"Puir Bobby, puir wee Bobby!" she cried, and her tears fell on
the little tousled head. The caretaker strode abruptly away and
waited for the wifie in the shadow of the auld kirk. Bobby lifted
his muzzle and licked the caressing hand. Then he curled himself
up comfortably on the mound and went to sleep.
In no part of Edinburgh did summer come up earlier, or with more
lavish bloom, than in old Greyfriars kirkyard. Sheltered on the
north and east, it was open to the moist breezes of the
southwest, and during all the lengthening afternoons the sun lay
down its slope and warmed the rear windows of the overlooking
tenements. Before the end of May the caretaker had much ado to
keep the growth in order. Vines threatened to engulf the circling
street of sepulchers in greenery and bloom, and grass to encroach
on the flower plots.
A half century ago there were no rotary lawnmowers to cut off
clover heads; and, if there had been, one could not have been
used on these dropping terraces, so populous with slabs and so
closely set with turfed mounds and oblongs of early flowering
annuals and bedding plants. Mr. Brown had to get down on his
hands and knees, with gardener's shears, to clip the turfed
borders and banks, and take a sickle to the hummocks. Thus he
could dig out a root of dandelion with the trowel kept ever in
his belt, consider the spreading crocuses and valley lilies,
whether to spare them, give a country violet its blossoming time,
and leave a screening burdock undisturbed until fledglings were
out of their nests in the shrubbery.
Mistress Jeanie often brought out a little old milking stool on
balmy mornings, and sat with knitting or mending in one of the
narrow aisles, to advise her gude-mon in small matters. Bobby
trotted quietly about, sniffing at everything with the liveliest
interest, head on this side or that, alertly. His business,
learned in his first summer in Greyfriars, was to guard the nests
of foolish skylarks, song-thrushes, redbreasts and wrens, that
built low in lilac, laburnum, and flowering currant bushes, in
crannies of wall and vault, and on the ground. It cannot but be a
pleasant thing to be a wee young dog, full of life and good
intentions, and to play one's dramatic part in making an old
garden of souls tuneful with bird song. A cry of alarm from
parent or nestling was answered instantly by the tiny, tousled
policeman, and there was a prowler the less, or a skulking cat
was sent flying over tomb and wall.
His duty done, without noise or waste of energy, Bobby returned
to lie in the sun on Auld Jock's grave. Over this beloved mound a
coverlet of rustic turf had been spread as soon as the frost was
out of the ground, and a bonny briar bush planted at the head.
Then it bore nature's own tribute of flowers, for violets,
buttercups, daisies and clover blossoms opened there and, later,
a spike or so of wild foxglove and a knot of heather. Robin
redbreasts and wrens foraged around Bobby, unafraid; swallows
swooped down from their mud villages, under the dizzy dormers and
gables, to flush the flies on his muzzle, and whole flocks of
little blue titmice fluttered just overhead, in their rovings
from holly and laurel to newly tasseled firs and yew trees.
The click of the wicket gate was another sort of alarm
altogether. At that the little dog slipped under the fallen
table-tomb and lay hidden there until any strange visitor had
taken himself away. Except for two more forced returns and
ingenious escapes from the sheepfarm on the Pentlands, Bobby had
lived in the kirkyard undisturbed for six months. The caretaker
had neither the heart to put him out nor the courage to face the
minister and the kirk officers with a plea for him to remain.
The little dog's presence there was known, apparently, only to
Mr. Traill, to a few of the tenement dwellers, and to the Heriot
boys. If his life was clandestine in a way, it was as regular of
hour and duty and as well ordered as that of the garrison in the
When the time-gun boomed, Bobby was let out for his midday meal
at Mr. Traill's and for a noisy run about the neighborhood to
exercise his lungs and legs. On Wednesdays he haunted the
Grassmarket, sniffing at horses, carts and mired boots. Edinburgh
had so many shaggy little Skye and Scotch terriers that one more
could go about unremarked. Bobby returned to the kirkyard at his
own good pleasure. In the evening he was given a supper of
porridge and broo, or milk, at the kitchen door of the lodge, and
the nights he spent on Auld Jock's grave. The morning drum and
bugle woke him to the chase, and all his other hours were spent
in close attendance on the labors of the caretaker. The click of
the wicket gate was the signal for instant disappearance.
A scramble up the wall from Heriot's Hospital grounds, or the
patter of bare feet on the gravel, however, was notice to come
out and greet a friend. Bobby was host to the disinherited
children of the tenements. Now, at the tap-tap-tapping of Tammy
Barr's crutches, he scampered up the slope, and he suited his
pace to the crippled boy's in coming down again. Tammy chose a
heap of cut grass on which to sit enthroned and play king, a
grand new crutch for a scepter, and Bobby for a courtier. At
command, the little dog rolled over and over, begged, and walked
on his hind legs. He even permitted a pair of thin little arms to
come near strangling him, in an excess of affection. Then he
wagged his tail and lolled his tongue to show that he was
friendly, and trotted away about his business. Tammy took an
oat-cake from his pocket to nibble, and began a conversation with
"I broucht a picnic wi' me."
"Did ye, noo? An' hoo did ye ken aboot picnics, laddie?"
"Maister Traill was tellin' Ailie an' me. There's ilka thing to
mak' a picnic i' the kirkyaird. They couldna mak' my legs gude i'
the infairmary, but I'm gangin' to Heriot's. I'll juist hae to
airn ma leevin' wi' ma heid, an' no' remember aboot ma legs, ava.
Is he no' a bonny doggie?"
"Ay, he's bonny. An' ye're a braw laddie no' to fash yersel'
aboot what canna be helped."
The wifie took his ragged jacket and mended it, dropped a tear in
an impossible hole, and a ha'penny in the one good pocket. And by
and by the pale laddie slept there among the bright graves, in
the sun. After another false alarm from the gate she asked her
gude-mon, as she had asked many times before:
"What'll ye do, Jamie, when the meenister kens aboot Bobby, an'
ca's ye up afore kirk sessions for brakin' the rule?"
"We wullna cross the brig till we come to the burn, woman," he
invariably answered, with assumed unconcern. Well he knew that
the bridge might be down and the stream in flood when he came to
it. But Mr. Traill was a member of Greyfriars auld kirk, too, and
a companion in guilt, and Mr. Brown relied not a little on the
landlord's fertile mind and daring tongue. And he relied on
useful, well-behaving Bobby to plead his own cause.
"There's nae denyin' the doggie is takin' in 'is ways. He's had
twa gude hames fair thrown at 'is heid, but the sperity bit keeps
to 'is ain mind. An' syne he's usefu', an' hauds 'is gab by the
ordinar'." He often reinforced his inclination with some such
With all their caution, discovery was always imminent. The
kirkyard was long and narrow and on rising levels, and it was cut
almost across by the low mass of the two kirks, so that many
things might be going on at one end that could not be seen from
the other. On this Saturday noon, when the Heriot boys were let
out for the half-holiday, Mr. Brown kept an eye on them until
those who lived outside had dispersed. When Mistress Jeanie
tucked her knitting-needles in her belt, and went up to the lodge
to put the dinner over the fire, the caretaker went down toward
Candlemakers Row to trim the grass about the martyrs' monument.
Bobby dutifully trotted at his heels. Almost immediately a
half-dozen laddies, led by Geordie Ross and Sandy McGregor,
scaled the wall from Heriot's grounds and stepped down into the
kirkyard, that lay piled within nearly to the top. They had a
perfectly legitimate errand there, but no mission is to be
approached directly by romantic boyhood.
"Hist!" was the warning, and the innocent invaders, feeling
delightfully lawless, stole over and stormed the marble castle,
where "Bluidy" McKenzie slept uneasily against judgment day.
Light-hearted lads can do daring deeds on a sunny day that would
freeze their blood on a dark and stormy night. So now Geordie
climbed nonchalantly to a seat over the old persecutor, crossed
his stout, bare legs, filled an imaginary pipe, and rattled the
three farthings in his pocket.
"I'm 'Jinglin' Geordie' Heriot," he announced.
"I'll show ye hoo a prood goldsmith ance smoked wi' a'."
Then, jauntily: "Sandy, gie a crack to 'Bluidy' McKenzie's door
an' daur the auld hornie to come oot.
The deed was done amid breathless apprehensions, but nothing
disturbed the silence of the May noon except the lark that sprang
at their feet and soared singing into the blue. It was Sandy who
presently whistled like a blackbird to attract the attention of
There were no blackbirds in the kirkyard, and Bobby understood
the signal. He scampered up at once and dashed around the kirk,
all excitement, for he had had many adventures with the Heriot
boys at skating and hockey on Duddingston Lock in the winter, and
tramps over the country and out to Leith harbor in the spring.
The laddies prowled along the upper wall of the kirks, opened and
shut the wicket, to give the caretaker the idea that they had
come in decorously by the gate, and went down to ask him, with
due respect and humility, if they could take Bobby out for the
afternoon. They were going to mark the places where wild flowers
might be had, to decorate "Jinglin' Geordie's" portrait, statue
and tomb at the school on Founder's Day. Mr. Brown considered
them with a glower that made the boys nudge each other knowingly.
"Saturday isna the day for 'im to be gaen aboot. He aye has a
washin' an' a groomin' to mak' 'im fit for the Sabbath. An', by
the leuk o' ye, ye'd be nane the waur for soap an' water yer
"We'll gie ' im 'is washin' an' combin' the nicht," they
"Weel, noo, he wullna hae 'is dinner till the time-gun."
Neither would they. At that, annoyed by their persistence, Mr.
Brown denied authority.
"Ye ken weel he isna ma dog. Ye'll hae to gang up an' spier
Maister Traill. He's fair daft aboot the gude-for-naethin' tyke."
This was understood as permission. As the boys ran up to the
gate, with Bobby at their heels, Mr. Brown called after them: "Ye
fetch 'im hame wi' the sunset bugle, an' gin ye teach 'im ony o'
yer unmannerly ways I'll tak' a stick to yer breeks."
When they returned to Mr. Traill's place at two o'clock the
landlord stood in shirt-sleeves and apron in the open doorway
with Bobby, the little dog gripping a mutton shank in his mouth.
"Bobby must tak' his bone down first and hide it awa'. The
Sabbath in a kirkyard is a dull day for a wee dog, so he aye gets
a catechism of a bone to mumble over."
'The landlord sighed in open envy when the laddies and the little
dog tumbled down the Row to the Grassmarket on their gypsying.
His eyes sought out the glimpse of green country on the dome of
Arthur's Seat, that loomed beyond the University towers to the
east. There are times when the heart of a boy goes ill with the
sordid duties of the man.
Straight down the length of the empty market the laddies ran,
through the crooked, fascinating haunt of horses and jockeys in
the street of King's Stables, then northward along the fronts of
quaint little handicrafts shops that skirted Castle Crag. By
turning westward into Queensferry Street a very few minutes would
have brought them to a bit of buried country. But every
expedition of Edinburgh lads of spirit of that day was properly
begun with challenges to scale Castle Rock from the valley park
of Princes Street Gardens on the north.
"I daur ye to gang up!" was all that was necessary to set any
group of youngsters to scaling the precipice. By every tree and
ledge, by every cranny and point of rock, stoutly rooted hazel
and thorn bush and clump of gorse, they climbed. These laddies
went up a quarter or a third of the way to the grim ramparts and
came cautiously down again. Bobby scrambled higher, tumbled back
more recklessly and fell, head over heels and upside down, on the
daisied turf. He righted himself at once, and yelped in sharp
protest. Then he sniffed and busied himself with pretenses, in
the elaborate unconcern with which a little dog denies anything
discreditable. There were legends of daring youth having climbed
this war-like cliff and laying hands on the fortress wall, but
Geordie expressed a popular feeling in declaring these tales "a'
"No' ony laddie could gang a' the way up an' come doon wi' 'is
heid no' broken. Bobby couldna do it, an' he's mair like a wild
fox than an ordinar' dog. Noo, we're the Light Brigade at
The Crimean War was then a recent event. Heroes of Sebastopol
answered the summons of drum and bugle in the Castle and fired
the hearts of Edinburgh youth. Cannon all around them, and
"theirs not to reason why," this little band stormed out
Queensferry Street and went down, hand under hand, into the fairy
underworld of Leith Water.
All its short way down from the Pentlands to the sea, the Water
of Leith was then a foaming little river of mills, twisting at
the bottom of a gorge. One cliff-like wall or the other lay to
the sun all day, so that the way was lined with a profusion of
every wild thing that turns green and blooms in the Lowlands of
Scotland. And it was filled to the brim with bird song and water
A crowd of laddies had only to go inland up this gorge to find
wild and tame bloom enough to bury "Jinglin' Geordie" all over
again every year. But adventure was to be had in greater variety
by dropping seaward with the bickering brown water. These waded
along the shallow margin, walked on shelving sands of gold, and,
where the channel was filled, they clung to the rocks and picked
their way along dripping ledges. Bobby missed no chance to swim.
If he could scramble over rough ground like a squirrel or a fox,
he could swim like an otter. Swept over the low dam at Dean
village, where a cup-like valley was formed, he tumbled over and
over in the spray and was all but drowned. As soon as he got his
breath and his bearings he struck out frantically for the bank,
shook the foam from his eyes and ears, and barked indignantly at
the saucy fall. The white miller in the doorway of the
gray-stone, red-roofed mill laughed, and anxious children ran
down from a knot of storybook cottages and gay dooryards. "I'll
gie ye ten shullin's for the sperity bit dog," the miller
shouted, above the clatter of the' wheel and the swish of the
"He isna oor ain dog," Geordie called back. "But he wullna droon.
He's got a gude heid to 'im, an' wullna be sic a bittie fule
Indeed he had a good head on him! Bobby never needed a second
lesson. At Silver Mills and Canon Mills he came out and trotted
warily around the dam. Where the gorge widened to a valley toward
the sea they all climbed up to Leith Walk, that ran to the
harbor, and came out to a wonder-world of water-craft anchored in
the Firth. Each boy picked out his ship to go adventuring.
"I'm gangin' to Norway!"
Geordie was scornful. "Hoots, ye tame pussies. Ye're fleid o'
gettin' yer feet wat. I'll be rinnin' aff to be a pirate. Come
They followed. the leader along shore and boarded an abandoned
and evil-smelling fishingboat. There they ran up a ragged jacket
for a black flag. But sailing a stranded craft palled presently.
"Nae, I'm gangin' to be a Crusoe. Preserve me! If there's no' a
futprint i' the sand Bobby's ma sma' man Friday."
Away they ran southward to find a castaway's shelter in a hollow
on the golf links. Soon this was transformed into a wrecker's
den, and then into the hiding-place of a harried Covenanter
fleeing religious persecution. Daring things to do swarmed in
upon their minds, for Edinburgh laddies live in a city of
romantic history, of soldiers, of near-by mountains, and of sea
rovings. No adventure served them five minutes, and Bobby was in
every one. Ah, lucky Bobby, to have such gay playfellows on a
sunny afternoon and under foot the open country!
And fortunate laddies to have such a merry rascal of a wee dog
with them! To the mile they ran, Bobby went five, scampering in
wide circles and barking and louping at butterflies and
whaups. He made a detour to the right to yelp saucily at the
red-coated sentry who paced before the Gothic gateway to the
deserted Palace of Holyrood, and as far to the left to harry the
hoofs of a regiment of cavalry drilling before the barracks at
Piershill. He raced on ahead and swam out to scatter the fleet
of swan sailing or the blue mirror of Duddingston Loch.
The tired boys lay blissfully up the sunny side of Arthur's Seat
in a thicket of hazel while Geordie carried out a daring plan for
which privacy was needed. Bobby was solemnly arraigned before a
court on the charge of being a seditious Covenanting meenister,
and was required to take the oath of loyalty to English King and
Church on pain of being hanged in the Grassmarket. The oath had
been duly written out on paper and greased with mutton tallow to
make it more palatable. Bobby licked the fat off with relish.
Then he took the paper between his sharp little teeth and merrily
tore it to shreds. And, having finished it, he barked cheerful
defiance at the court. The lads came near rolling down the slope
with laughter, and they gave three cheers for the little hero.
Sandy remarked, "Ye wadna think, noo, sic a sonsie doggie wad be
leevin' i' the murky auld kirkyaird."
Bobby had learned the lay of the tipped-up and scooped-out and
jumbled auld toon, and he led the way homeward along the southern
outskirts of the city. He turned up Nicolson Street, that ran
northward, past the University and the old infirmary. To get into
Greyfriars Place from the east at that time one had to descend to
the Cowgate and climb out again. Bobby darted down the first of
the narrow wynds.
Suddenly he turned 'round and 'round in bewilderment, then shot
through a sculptured door way, into a well-like court, and up a
flight of stone stairs. The slamming of a shutter overhead
shocked him to a standstill on the landing and sent him dropping
slowly down again. What memories surged back to his little
brain, what grief gripped his heart, as he stood trembling on a
certain spot in the pavement where once a long deal box had
"What ails the bittie dog?" There was something here that sobered
the thoughtless boys. "Come awa', Bobby!"
At that he came obediently enough. But he trotted down the very
middle of the wynd, head and tail low, and turned unheeding into
the Saturday-evening roar of the Cowgate. He refused to follow
them up the rise between St. Magdalen's Chapel and the eastern
parapet of the bridge, but kept to his way under the middle arch
into the Grassmarket. By way of Candlemakers Row he gained the
kirkyard gate, and when the wicket was opened he disappeared
around the church. When Bobby failed to answer calls, Mr. Brown
grumbled, but went after him. The little dog submitted to his
vigorous scrubbing and grooming, but he refused his supper.
Without a look or a wag of the tail he was gone again.
"Noo, what hae ye done to'im? He's no' like 'is ainsel' ava."
They had done nothing, indeed. They could only relate Bobby's
strange behavior in College Wynd and the rest of the way home.
Mistress Jeanie nodded her head, with the wisdom of women that is
of the heart.
"Eh, Jamie, that wad be whaur 'is maister deed sax months syne."
And having said it she slipped down the slope with her knitting
and sat on the mound beside the mourning little dog.
When the awe-struck lads asked for the story Mr. Brown shook his
head. "Ye spier Maister Traill. He kens a' aboot it; an' syne he
can talk like a beuk."
Before they left the kirkyard the laddies walked down to Auld
Jock's grave and patted Bobby on the head, and they went away
thoughtfully to their scattered homes.
As on that first morning when his grief was new, Bobby woke to a
Calvinistic Sabbath. There were no rattling carts or hawkers
crying their wares. Steeped in sunshine, the Castle loomed golden
into the blue. Tenement dwellers slept late, and then moved about
quietly. Children with unwontedly clean faces came out to
galleries and stairs to study their catechisms. Only the birds
were unaware of the seventh day, and went about their melodious
business; and flower buds opened to the sun.
In mid-morning there suddenly broke on the sweet stillness that
clamor of discordant bells that made the wayfarer in Edinburgh
stop his ears. All the way from Leith Harbor to the Burghmuir
eight score of warring bells contended to be heard. Greyfriars
alone was silent in that babblement, for it had lost tower and
bell in an explosion of gunpowder. And when the din ceased at
last there was a sound of military music. The Castle gates swung
wide, and a kilted regiment marched down High Street playing "God
Save the Queen." When Bobby was in good spirits the marching
music got into his legs and set him to dancing scandalously. The
caretaker and his wifie always came around the kirk on pleasant
mornings to see the bonny sight of the gay soldiers going to
To wee Bobby these good, comfortable, everyday friends of his
must have seemed strange in their black garments and their
serious Sunday faces. And, ah! the Sabbath must, indeed, have
been a dull day to the little dog. He had learned that when the
earliest comer clicked the wicket he must go under the table-tomb
and console himself with the extra bone that Mr. Traill never
failed to remember. With an hour's respite for dinner at the
lodge, between the morning and afternoon services, he lay there
all day. The restaurant was closed, and there was no running
about for good dogs. In the early dark of winter he could come
out and trot quietly about the silent, deserted place.
As soon as the crocuses pushed their green noses through the
earth in the spring the congregation began to linger among the
graves, for to see an old burying ground renew its life is a
peculiar promise of the resurrection. By midsummer visitors were
coming from afar, some even from over-sea, to read the quaint
inscriptions on the old tombs, or to lay tributes of flowers on
the graves of poets and religious heroes. It was not until the
late end of such a day that Bobby could come out of hiding to
stretch his cramped legs. Then it was that tenement children
dropped from low windows, over the tombs, and ate their suppers
of oat cake there in the fading light.
When Mr. Traill left the kirkyard in the bright evening of the
last Sunday in May he stopped without to wait for Dr. Lee, the
minister of Greyfriars auld kirk, who had been behind him to the
gate. Now he was nowhere to be seen. With Bobby ever in the
background of his mind, at such times of possible discovery, Mr.
Traill reentered the kirkyard. The minister was sitting on the
fallen slab, tall silk hat off, with Mr. Brown standing beside
him, uncovered and miserable of aspect, and Bobby looking up
anxiously at this new element in his fate.
"Do you think it seemly for a dog to be living in the churchyard,
Mr. Brown?" The minister's voice was merely kind and inquiring,
but the caretaker was in fault, and this good English was
disconcerting. However, his conscience acquitted him of moral
wrong, and his sturdy Scotch independence came to the rescue.
"Gin a bit dog, wha hands 'is gab, isna seemly, thae pussies are
the deil's ain bairns."
The minister lifted his hand in rebuke. "Remember the Sabbath
Day. And I see no cats, Mr. Brown."
"Ye wullna see ony as lang as the wee doggie is leevin' i' the
kirkyaird. An' the vermin hae sneekit awa' the first time sin'
Queen Mary's day. An' syne there's mair singin' birdies than for
mony a year."
Mr. Traill had listened, unseen. Now he came forward with a gay
challenge in broad Scotch to put the all but routed caretaker at
"Doctor, I hae a queistion to spier ye. Which is mair unseemly: a
weel-behavin' bittie tyke i' the kirkyaird or a scandalous organ
i' the kirk?"
"Ah, Mr. Traill, I'm afraid you're a sad, irreverent young dog
yourself, sir." The minister broke into a genial laugh. "Man,
you've spoiled a bit of fun I was having with Mr. Brown, who
takes his duties 'sairiously."' He sat looking down at the little
dog until Bobby came up to him and stood confidingly under his
caressing hand. Then he added: "I have suspected for some months
that he was living in the churchyard. It is truly remarkable that
an active, noisy little Skye could keep so still about it."
At that Mr. Brown retreated to the martyrs' monument to meditate
on the unministerial behavior of this minister and professor of
Biblical criticism in the University. Mr. Traill, however, sat
himself down on the slab for a pleasant probing into the soul of
this courageous dominie, who had long been under fire for his
innovations in the kirk services.
"I heard of Bobby first early in the winter, from a Bible-reader
at the Medical Mission in the Cowgate, who saw the little dog's
master buried. He sees many strange, sad things in his work, but
nothing ever shocked him so as the lonely death of that pious old
shepherd in such a picturesque den of vice and misery."
"Ay, he went from my place, fair ill, into the storm. I never
knew whaur the auld man died."
The minister looked at Mr. Traill, struck by the note of remorse
in his tone.
"The missionary returned to the churchyard to look for the dog
that had refused to leave the grave. He concluded that Bobby had
gone away to a new home and master, as most dogs do go sooner or
later. Some weeks afterward the minister of a small church in the
hills inquired for him and insisted that he was still here. This
last week, at the General Assembly, I heard of the wee Highlander
from several sources. The tales of his escapes from the
sheep-farm have grown into a sort of Odyssey of the Pentlands. I
think, perhaps, if you had not continued to feed him, Mr. Traill,
he might have remained at his old home."
"Nae, I'm no' thinking so, and I was no' willing to risk the
starvation of the bonny, leal Highlander."
Until the stars came out Mr. Traill sat there telling the story.
At mention of his master's name Bobby returned to the mound and
stretched himself across it. "I will go before the kirk officers,
Doctor Lee, and tak' full responseebility. Mr. Brown is no' to
blame. It would have tak'n a man with a heart of trap-rock to
have turned the woeful bit dog out."
"He is well cared for and is of a hardy breed, so he is not
likely to suffer; but a dog, no more than a man, cannot live on
bread alone. His heart hungers for love."
"Losh!" cried Mr. Brown. "Are ye thinkin' he isna gettin' it? Oor
bairns are a' oot o' the hame nest, an' ma woman, Jeanie, is fair
daft aboot Bobby, aye thinkin' he'll tak' the measles. An' syne,
there's a' the tenement bairns cryin' oot on 'im ilka meenit, an'
ane crippled laddie he een lets fondle 'im."
"Still, it would be better if he belonged to some one master.
Everybody's dog is nobody's dog," the minister insisted. "I wish
you could attach him to you, Mr. Traill."
"Ay, it's a disappointment to me that he'll no' bide with me.
Perhaps, in time--"
"It's nae use, ava," Mr. Brown interrupted, and he related the
incident of the evening before. "He's cheerfu' eneugh maist o'
the time, an' likes to be wi' the laddies as weel as ony dog, but
he isna forgettin' Auld Jock. The wee doggie cam' again to 'is
maister's buryin'. Man, ye ne'er saw the like o' it. The wifie
found 'im flattened oot to a furry door-mat, an' greetin' to brak
"It's a remarkable story; and he's a beautiful little dog, and a
leal one." The minister stooped and patted Bobby, and he was
thoughtful all the way to the gate.
"The matter need not be brought up in any formal way. I will
speak to the elders and deacons about it privately, and refer
those wanting details to you, Mr. Traill. Mr. Brown," he called
to the caretaker who stood in the lodge door, "it cannot be
pleasing to God to see the little creature restrained. Give Bobby
his liberty on the Sabbath."
It was more than eight years after Auld Jock fled from the threat
of a doctor that Mr. Traill's prediction, that his tongue would
get him into trouble with the magistrates, was fulfilled; and
then it was because of the least-considered slip in speaking to a
boyhood friend who happened to be a Burgh policeman.
Many things had tried the landlord of Ye Olde Greyfriars
Dining-Rooms. After a series of soft April days, in which lilacs
budded and birds sang in the kirkyard, squalls of wind and rain
came up out of the sea-roaring east. The smoky old town of
Edinburgh was so shaken and beaten upon and icily drenched that
rattling finials and tiles were torn from ancient gables and
whirled abroad. Rheumatic pains were driven into the joints of
the elderly. Mr. Brown took to his bed in the lodge, and Mr.
Traill was touchy in his temper.
A sensitive little dog learns to read the human barometer with a
degree of accuracy rarely attained by fellowmen and, in times of
low pressure, wisely effaces himself. His rough thatch streaming,
Bobby trotted in blithely for his dinner, ate it under the
settle, shook himself dry, and dozed half the afternoon.
To the casual observer the wee terrier was no older than when his
master died. As swift of foot and as sound of wind as he had
ever been, he could tear across country at the heels of a new
generation of Heriot laddies and be as fresh as a daisy at
nightfall. Silvery gray all over, the whitening hairs on his face
and tufted feet were not visible. His hazel-brown eyes were still
as bright and soft and deep as the sunniest pools of Leith Water.
It was only when he opened his mouth for a tiny, pink cavern of a
yawn that the points of his teeth could be seen to be wearing
down; and his after-dinner nap was more prolonged than of old. At
such times Mr. Traill recalled that the longest life of a dog is
no more than a fifth of the length of days allotted to man.
On that snarling April day, when only himself and the flossy ball
of sleeping Skye were in the place, this thought added to Mr.
Traill's discontent. There had been few guests. Those who had
come in, soaked and surly, ate their dinner in silence and
discomfort and took themselves away, leaving the freshly scrubbed
floor as mucky as a moss-hag on the moor. Late in the afternoon a
sergeant, risen from the ranks and cocky about it, came in and
turned himself out of a dripping greatcoat, dapper and dry in his
red tunic, pipe-clayed belt, and winking buttons. He ordered tea
and toast and Dundee marmalade with an air of gay well-being that
was no less than a personal affront to a man in Mr. Traill's
frame of mind. Trouble brewed with the tea that Ailie Lindsey, a
tall lassie of fifteen, but shy and elfish as of old, brought in
on a tray from the scullery.
When this spick-and-span non-commissioned officer demanded Mr.
Traill's price for the little dog that took his eye, the landlord
replied curtly that Bobby was not for sale. The soldier was
"That's vera surprisin'. I aye thoucht an Edinburgh shopkeeper
wad sell ilka thing he had, an' tak' the siller to bed wi' 'im to
keep 'im snug the nicht."
Mr. Traill returned, with brief sarcasm, that "his lairdship" had
"Why wull ye no' sell the bit dog?" the man insisted.
The badgered landlord turned upon him and answered at length,
after the elaborate manner of a minister who lays his sermon off
"First: he's no' my dog to sell. Second: he's a dog of rare
discreemination, and is no' like to tak' you for a master. Third:
you soldiers aye have with you a special brand of shulling-a-day
impudence. And, fourth and last, my brither: I'm no' needing your
siller, and I can manage to do fair weel without your
As this bombardment proceeded, the sergeant's jaw dropped. When
it was finished he laughed heartily and slapped his knee. "Man,
come an' brak bread wi' me or I'll hae to brak yer stiff neck."
A truce was declared over a cozy pot of tea, and the two became
at least temporary friends. It was such a day that the landlord
would have gossiped with a gaol bird; and when a soldier who has
seen years of service, much of it in strange lands, once admits a
shopkeeper to equality, he can be affable and entertaining
"by the ordinar'." Mr. Traill sketched Bobby's story broadly, and
to a sympathetic listener; and the soldier told the landlord of
the animals that had lived and died in the Castle.
Parrots and monkeys and strange dogs and cats had been brought
there by regiments returning from foreign countries and colonies.
But most of the pets had been native dogs-collies, spaniels and
terriers, and animals of mixed breeds and of no breed at all, but
just good dogs. No one knew when the custom began, but there was
an old and well-filled cemetery for the Castle pets. When a dog
died a little stone was set up, with the name of the animal and
the regiment to which it had belonged on it. Soldiers often went
there among the tiny mounds and told stories of the virtues and
taking ways of old favorites. And visitors read the names of
Flora and Guy and Dandie, of Prince Charlie and Rob Roy, of
Jeanie and Bruce and Wattie. It was a merry life for a dog in the
Castle. He was petted and spoiled by homesick men, and when he
died there were a thousand mourners at his funeral.
"Put it to the bit Skye noo. If he tak's the Queen's shullin' he
belongs to the army." The sergeant flipped a coin before Bobby,
who was wagging his tail and sniffing at the military boots with
his ever lively interest in soldiers.
He looked up at the tossed coin indifferently, and when it fell
to the floor he let it lie. "Siller " has no meaning to a dog.
His love can be purchased with nothing less than his chosen
master's heart. The soldier sighed at Bobby's indifference. He
introduced himself as Sergeant Scott, of the Royal Engineers,
detailed from headquarters to direct the work in the
Castle crafts shops. Engineers rank high in pay and in
consideration, and it was no ordinary Jack of all trades who had
expert knowledge of so many skilled handicrafts. Mr. Traill's
respect and liking for the man increased with the passing
As the sergeant departed he warned Mr. Traill, laughingly, that
he meant to kidnap Bobby the very first chance he got. The Castle
pet had died, and Bobby was altogether too good a dog to be
wasted on a moldy auld kirkyard and thrown on a dust-cart when he
came to die.
Mr. Traill resented the imputation. "He'll no' be thrown on a
The door was shut on the mocking retort "Hoo do ye ken he
And there was food for gloomy reflection. The landlord could not
know, in truth, what Bobby's ultimate fate might be. But little
over nine years of age, he should live only five or six years
longer at most. Of his friends, Mr. Brown was ill and aging, and
might have to give place to a younger man. He himself was in his
prime, but he could not be certain of living longer than this
hardy little dog. For the first time he realized the truth of Dr.
Lee's saying that everybody's dog was nobody's dog. The tenement
children held Bobby in a sort of community affection. He was the
special pet of the Heriot laddies, but a class was sent into the
world every year and was scattered far. Not one of all the
hundreds of bairns who had known and loved this little dog could
give him any real care or protection.
For the rest, Bobby had remained almost unknown. Many of the
congregations of old and new Greyfriars had never seen or heard
of him. When strangers were about he seemed to prefer lying in
his retreat under the fallen tomb. His Sunday-afternoon naps he
usually took in the lodge kitchen. And so, it might very well
happen that his old age would be friendless, that he would come
to some forlorn end, and be carried away on the dustman's cart.
It might, indeed, be better for him to end his days in love and
honor in the Castle. But to this solution of the problem Mr.
Traill himself was not reconciled.
Sensing some shifting of the winds in the man's soul, Bobby
trotted over to lick his hand. Then he sat up on the hearth and
lolled his tongue, reminding the good landlord that he had one
cheerful friend to bear him company on the blaw-weary day. It was
thus they sat, companionably, when a Burgh policeman who was well
known to Mr. Traill came in to dry himself by the fire. Gloomy
thoughts were dispelled at once by the instinct of hospitality.
"You're fair wet, man. Pull a chair to the hearth. And you have a
bit smut on your nose, Davie."
"It's frae the railway engine. Edinburgh was a reekie toon eneugh
afore the engines cam' in an' belched smuts in ilka body's
faces." The policeman was disgusted and discouraged by three days
of wet clothing, and he would have to go out into the rain again
before he got dry. Nothing occurred to him to talk about but
"Did ye ken the Laird Provost, Maister Chambers, is intendin' to
knock a lang hole aboon the tap o' the Coogate wynds? It wull
mak' a braid street ye can leuk doon frae yer doorway here. The
gude auld days gangin' doon in a muckle dust!"
"Ay, the sun will peep into foul places it hasn't seen sin' Queen
Mary's day. And, Davie, it would be more according to the gude
auld customs you're so fond of to call Mr. William Chambers
'Glenormiston' for his bit country place."
"He's no' a laird."
"Nae; but he'll be a laird the next time the Queen shows her
bonny face north o' the Tweed. Tak' 'a cup o' kindness' with me,
man. Hot tay will tak' the cauld out of vour disposeetion." Mr.
Traill pulled a bell-cord and Ailie, unused as yet to bells, put
her startled little face in at the door to the scullery. At sight
of the policeman she looked more than ever like a scared rabbit,
and her hands shook when she set the tray down before him. A
tenement child grew up in an atmosphere of hostility to uniformed
authority, which seldom appeared except to interfere with what
were considered personal affairs.
The tea mollified the dour man, but there was one more rumbling.
"I'm no' denyin' the Provost's gude-hearted. Ance he got up a
hame for gaen-aboot dogs, an' he had naethin' to mak' by that.
But he canna keep 'is spoon oot o' ilka body's porridge. He's
fair daft to tear doon the wa's that cut St. Giles up into fower,
snod, white kirks, an' mak' it the ane muckle kirk it was in auld
Papist days. There are folk that say, gin he doesna leuk oot,
anither kale wifie wull be throwin' a bit stool at 'is meddlin'
"Eh, nae doubt. There's aye a plentifu' supply o' fules in the
Seeing his good friend so well entertained, and needing his
society no longer, Bobby got up, wagged his tail in farewell, and
started toward the door. Mr. Traill summoned the little maid and
spoke to her kindly: "Give Bobby a bone, lassie, and then open
the door for him."
In carrying out these instructions Ailie gave the policeman as
wide leeway as possible and kept a wary eye upon him. The
officer's duties were chiefly up on High Street. He seldom
crossed the bridge, and it happened that he had never seen Bobby
before. Just by way of making conversation he remarked, "I didna
ken ye had a dog, John."
Ailie stopped stock still, the cups on the tray she was taking
out tinkling from her agitation. It was thus policemen spoke at
private doors in the dark tenements: "I didna ken ye had the
smallpox." But Mr. Traill seemed in no way alarmed. He answered
with easy indulgence "That's no' surprising. There's mony a thing
you dinna ken, Davie."
The landlord forgot the matter at once, but Ailie did not, for
she saw the officer flush darkly and, having no answer ready, go
out in silence. In truth, the good-humored sarcasm rankled in the
policeman's breast. An hour later he suddenly came to a
standstill below the clock tower of the Tron kirk on High Street,
and he chuckled.
"Eh, John Traill. Ye're unco' weel furnished i' the heid, but
there's ane or twa things ye dinna ken yer ainsel'."
Entirely taken up with his brilliant idea, he lost no time in
putting it to work. He dodged among the standing cabs and around
the buttresses of St. Giles that projected into the thoroughfare.
In the mid-century there was a police office in the middle of the
front of the historic old cathedral that had then fallen to its
lowest ebb of fortune. There the officer reported a matter that
was strictly within the line of his duty.
Very early the next morning he was standing before the door of
Mr. Traill's place, in the fitful sunshine of clearing skies,
when the landlord appeared to begin the business of the day.
"Are ye Maister John Traill?"
"Havers, Davie! What ails you, man? You know my name as weel as
you know your ain."
"It's juist a formality o' the law to mak' ye admit yer identity.
Here's a bit paper for ye." He thrust an official-looking
document into Mr. Traill's hand and took himself away across the
bridge, fair satisfied with his conduct of an affair of subtlety.
It required five minutes for Mr. Traill to take in the import of
the legal form. Then a wrathful explosion vented itself on the
unruly key that persisted in dodging the keyhole. But once within
he read the paper again, put it away thoughtfully in an inner
pocket, and outwardly subsided to his ordinary aspect. He
despatched the business of the day with unusual attention to
details and courtesy to guests, and when, in mid afternoon, the
place was empty, he followed Bobby to the kirkyard and inquired
at the lodge if he could see Mr. Brown.
"He isna so ill, noo, Maister Traill, but I wadna advise ye to
hae muckle to say to 'im." Mistress Jeanie wore the arch look of
the wifie who is somewhat amused by a convalescent husband's ill
humors. "The pains grupped 'im sair, an' noo that he's easier
he'd see us a' hanged wi' pleesure. Is it onything by the
"Nae. It's just a sma' matter I can attend to my ainsel'. Do you
think he could be out the morn?"
"No' afore a week or twa, an' syne, gin the bonny sun comes oot
to bide a wee."
Mr. Traill left the kirkyard and went out to George Square to
call upon the minister of Greyfriars auld kirk. The errand was
unfruitful, and he was back in ten minutes, to spend the evening
alone, without even the consolation of Bobby's company, for the
little dog was unhappy outside the kirkyard after sunset. And he
took an unsettling thought to bed with him.
Here was a pretty kettle of fish, indeed, for a respected member
of a kirk and middle-aged business man to fry in. Through the
legal verbiage Mr. Traill made out that he was summoned to appear
before whatever magistrate happened to be sitting on the morrow
in the Burgh court, to answer to the charge of owning, or
harboring, one dog, upon which he had not paid the license tax of
For all its absurdity it was no laughing matter. The municipal
court of Edinburgh was of far greater dignity than the ordinary
justice court of the United Kingdom and of America. The civic
bench was occupied, in turn, by no less a personage than the Lord
Provost as chief, and by five other magistrates elected by the
Burgh council from among its own membership. Men of standing in
business, legal and University circles, considered it an honor
and a duty to bring their knowledge and responsibility to bear on
the pettiest police cases.
It was morning before Mr. Traill had the glimmer of an idea to
take with him on this unlucky business. An hour before the
opening of court he crossed the bridge into High Street, which
was then as picturesquely Gothic and decaying and overpopulated
as the Cowgate, but high-set, wind-swept and sun-searched, all
the way up the sloping mile from Holyrood Palace to the Castle.
The ridge fell away steeply, through rifts of wynds and closes,