Part 3 out of 4
to the Cowgate ravine on the one hand, and to Princes Street's
parked valley on the other. Mr. Traill turned into the narrow
descent of Warriston Close. Little more than a crevice in the
precipice of tall, old buildings, on it fronted a business house
whose firm name was known wherever the English language was read:
"W. and R. Chambers, Publishers."
From top to bottom the place was gas-lit, even on a sunny spring
morning, and it hummed and clattered with printing-presses. No
one was in the little anteroom to the editorial offices beside a
young clerk, but at sight of a red-headed, freckle-faced Heriot
laddie of Bobby's puppyhood days Mr. Traill's spirits rose.
"A gude day to you, Sandy McGregor; and whaur's your auld twin
conspirator, Geordie Ross?"
"He's a student in the Medical College, Mr. Traill. He went by
this meenit to the Botanical Garden for herbs my grandmither has
aye known without books." Sandy grinned in appreciation of this
foolishness, but he added, with Scotch shrewdness, "It's gude for
the book-prenting beesiness."
"It is so," the landlord agreed, heartily. "But you must no' be
forgetting that the Chambers brothers war book readers and
sellers before they war publishers. You are weel set up in life,
laddie, and Heriot's has pulled the warst of the burrs from your
tongue. I'm wanting to see Glenormiston."
"Mr. William Chambers is no' in. Mr. Robert is aye in, but he's
no' liking to be fashed about sma' things."
"I'll no' trouble him. It's the Lord Provost I'm wanting, on
ofeecial beesiness." He requested Sandy to ask Glenormiston, if
he came in, to come over to the Burgh court and spier for Mr.
"It's no' his day to sit as magistrate, and he's no' like to go
unless it's a fair sairious matter."
"Ay, it is, laddie. It's a matter of life and death, I'm
thinking!" He smiled grimly, as it entered his head that he might
be driven to do violence to that meddling policeman. The yellow
gas-light gave his face such a sardonic aspect that Sandy turned
"Wha's death, man?"
Mr. Traill kept his own counsel, but at the door he turned:
"You'll no' be remembering the bittie terrier that lived in the
The light of boyhood days broke in Sandy's grin. "Ay, I'll no' be
forgetting the sonsie tyke. He was a deil of a dog to tak' on a
holiday. Is he still faithfu' to his dead master?"
"He is that; and for his faithfu'ness he's like to be dead
himsel'. The police are takin' up masterless dogs an' putting
them out o' the way. I'll mak' a gude fight for Bobby in the
"I'll fight with you, man." The spirit of the McGregor clan,
though much diluted and subdued by town living, brought Sandy
down from a three-legged stool. He called another clerk to take
his place, and made off to find the Lord Provost, powerful friend
of hameless dogs. Mr. Traill hastened down to the Royal Exchange,
below St. Giles and on the northern side of High Street.
Less than a century old, this municipal building was modern among
ancient rookeries. To High Street it presented a classic front of
four stories, recessed by flanking wings, around three sides of a
quadrangular courtyard. Near the entrance there was a row of
barber shops and coffee-rooms. Any one having business with the
city offices went through a corridor between these places of
small trade to the stairway court behind them. On the floor
above, one had to inquire of some uniformed attendant in which of
the oaken, ante-roomed halls the Burgh court was sitting. And by
the time one got there all the pride of civic history of the
ancient royal Burgh, as set forth in portrait and statue and a
museum of antiquities, was apt to take the lime out of the
backbone of a man less courageous than Mr. Traill. What a car of
juggernaut to roll over one, small, masterless terrier!
But presently the landlord found himself on his feet, and not so
ill at ease. A Scottish court, high or low, civil or criminal,
had a flavor all its own. Law points were threshed over with
gusto, but counsel, client, and witness gained many a point by
ready wit, and there was no lack of dry humor from the bench.
About the Burgh court, for all its stately setting, there was
little formality. The magistrate of the day sat behind a tall
desk, with a clerk of record at his elbow, and the officer gave
his testimony briefly: Edinburgh being quite overrun by stray and
unlicensed dogs, orders had recently been given the Burgh police
to report such animals. In Mr. Traill's place he had seen a small
terrier that appeared to be at home there; and, indeed, on the
dog's going out, Mr. Traill had called a servant lassie to fetch
a bone, and to open the door for him. He noticed that the animal
wore no collar, and felt it his duty to report the matter.
By the time Mr. Traill was called to answer to the charge a
number of curious idlers had gathered on the back benches. He
admitted his name and address, but denied that he either owned or
was harboring a dog. The magistrate fixed a cold eye upon him,
and asked if he meant to contradict the testimony of the officer.
"Nae, your Honor; and he might have seen the same thing ony
week-day of the past eight and a half years. But the bit terrier
is no' my ain dog." Suddenly, the memory of the stormy night, the
sick old man and the pathos of his renunciation of the only
beating heart in the world that loved him--"Bobby isna ma ain
dog!" swept over the remorseful landlord. He was filled with a
fierce championship of the wee Highlander, whose loyalty to that
dead master had brought him to this strait.
To the magistrate Mr. Traill's tossed-up head had the effect of
defiance, and brought a sharp rebuke. "Don't split hairs, Mr.
Traill. You are wasting the time of the court. You admit feeding
the dog. Who is his master and where does he sleep?"
"His master is in his grave in auld Greyfriars kirkyard, and the
dog has aye slept there on the mound."
The magistrate leaned over his desk. "Man, no dog could sleep in
the open for one winter in this climate. Are you fond of
romancing, Mr. Traill?"
"No' so overfond, your Honor. The dog is of the subarctic breed
of Skye terriers, the kind with a thick under-jacket of fleece,
and a weather thatch that turns rain like a crofter's cottage
"There should be witnesses to such an extraordinary story. The
dog could not have lived in this strictly guarded churchyard
without the consent of those in authority." The magistrate was
plainly annoyed and skeptical, and Mr. Traill felt the sting of
"Ay, the caretaker has been his gude friend, but Mr. Brown is ill
of rheumatism, and can no' come out. Nae doubt, if necessary, his
deposeetion could be tak'n. Permission for the bit dog to live in
the kirkyard was given by the meenister of Greyfriars auld kirk,
but Doctor Lee is in failing health and has gone to the south of
France. The tenement children and the Heriot laddies have aye
made a pet of Bobby, but they would no' be competent witnesses."
"You should have counsel. There are some legal difficulties
"I'm no' needing a lawyer. The law in sic a matter can no' be so
complicated, and I have a tongue in my ain head that has aye
served me, your Honor." The magistrate smiled, and the spectators
moved to the nearer benches to enjoy this racy man. The room
began to fill by that kind of telepathy
that causes crowds to gather around the human drama. One man
stood, unnoticed, in the doorway. Mr. Traill went on, quietly:
"If the court permits me to do so, I shall be glad to pay for
Bobby's license, but I'm thinking that carries responsibeelity
for the bit dog."
"You are quite right, Mr. Traill. You would have to assume
responsibility. Masterless dogs have become a serious nuisance in
"I could no' tak' responsibeelity. The dog is no' with me more
than a couple of hours out of the twenty-four. I understand that
most of his time is spent in the kirkyard, in weel-behaving,
usefu' ways, but I could no' be sure."
"But why have you fed him for so many years? Was his master a
"Nae, just a customer, your Honor; a simple auld shepherd who ate
his market-day dinner in my place. He aye had the bit dog with
him, and I was the last man to see the auld body before he went
awa' to his meeserable death in a Cowgate wynd. Bobby came to me,
near starved, to be fed, two days after his master's burial. I
was tak'n by the wee Highlander's leal spirit."
And that was all the landlord would say. He had no mind to wear
his heart upon his sleeve for this idle crowd to gape at.
After a moment the magistrate spoke warmly: "It appears, then,
that the payment of the license could not be accepted from you.
Your humanity is commendable, Mr. Traill, but technically you are
in fault. The minimum fine should be imposed and remitted."
At this utterly unlooked-for conclusion Mr. Traill seemed to
gather his lean shoulders together for a spring, and his gray
eyes narrowed to blades.
"With due respect to your Honor, I must tak' an appeal against
sic a deceesion, to the Lord Provost and a' the magistrates, and
then to the Court of Sessions."
"You would get scant attention, Mr. Traill. The higher judiciary
have more important business than reviewing dog cases. You would
be laughed out of court."
The dry tone stung him to instant retort. "And in gude company
I'd be. Fifty years syne Lord Erskine was laughed down in
Parliament for proposing to give legal protection to dumb
animals. But we're getting a bit more ceevilized."
"Tut, tut, Mr. Traill, you are making far too much of a small
"It's no' a sma' matter to be entered in the records of the Burgh
court as a petty law-breaker. And if I continued to feed the dog
I would be in contempt of court."
The magistrate was beginning to feel badgered. "The fine carries
the interdiction with it, Mr. Traill, if you are asking for
"It was no' for information, but just to mak' plain my ain line
of conduct. I'm no' intending to abandon the dog. I am commended
here for my humanity, but the bit dog I must let starve for a
technicality." Instantly, as the magistrate half rose from the
bench, the landlord saw that he had gone too far, and put the
court on the defensive. In an easy, conversational tone, as if
unaware of the point he had scored, he asked if he might address
his accuser on a personal matter. "We knew each other weel as
laddies. Davie, when you're in my neeborhood again on a wet day,
come in and dry yoursel' by my fire and tak' another cup o'
kindness for auld lang syne. You'll be all the better man for a
lesson in morals the bit dog can give you: no' to bite the hand
that feeds you."
The policeman turned purple. A ripple of merriment ran through
the room. The magistrate put his hand up to his mouth, and the
clerk began to drop pens. Before silence was restored a messenger
laddie ran up with a note for the bench. The magistrate read it
with a look of relief, and nodded to the man who had been
listening from the doorway, but who disappeared at once.
"The case is ordered continued. The defendant will be given time
to secure witnesses, and notified when to appear. The next case
Somewhat dazed by this sudden turn, and annoyed by the delayed
settlement of the affair, Mr. Traill hastened from the
court-room. As he gained the street he was overtaken by the
messenger with a second note. And there was a still more
surprising turn that sent the landlord off up swarming High
Street, across the bridge, and on to his snug little place of
business, with the face and the heart of a school-boy. When
Bobby, draggled by three days of wet weather, came in for his
dinner, Mr. Traill scanned him critically and in some perplexity.
At the end of the day's work, as Ailie was dropping her quaint
curtsy and giving her adored employer a shy "gude nicht," he had
a sudden thought that made him call her back.
"Did you ever give a bit dog a washing, lassie?"
"Ye mean Bobby, Maister Traill? Nae, I didna." Her eyes sparkled.
"But Tammy's hauded 'im for Maister Brown, an' he says it's
sonsie to gie the bonny wee a washin'."
"Weel, Mr. Brown is fair ill, and there has been foul weather.
Bobby's getting to look like a poor 'gaen aboot' dog. Have him at
the kirkyard gate at a quarter to eight o'clock the morn looking
like a leddy's pet and I'll dance a Highland fling at your
"Are ye gangin' to tak' Bobby on a picnic, Maister Traill?"
He answered with a mock solemnity and a twinkle in his eyes that
mystified the little maid. "Nae, lassie; I'm going to tak' him
to a meeting in a braw kirk."
When Ailie wanted to get up unusually early in the morning she
made use of Tammy for an alarm-clock. A crippled laddie who must
"mak' 'is leevin' wi' 'is heid" can waste no moment of daylight,
and in the ancient buildings around Greyfriars the maximum of
daylight was to be had only by those able and willing to climb to
the gables. Tammy, having to live on the lowest, darkest floor of
all, used the kirkyard for a study, by special indulgence of the
caretaker, whenever the weather permitted.
From a window he dropped his books and his crutches over the
wall. Then, by clasping his arms around a broken shaft that
blocked the casement, he swung himself out, and scrambled down
into an enclosed vault yard. There he kept hidden Mistress
Jeanie's milking stool for a seat; and a table-tomb served as
well, for the laddie to do his sums upon, as it had for the
tearful signing of the Covenant more than two hundred years
before. Bobby, as host, greeted Tammy with cordial friskings and
waggings, saw him settled to his tasks, and then went briskly
about his own interrupted business of searching out marauders.
Many a spring dawn the quiet little boy and the swift and silent
little dog had the shadowy garden all to themselves, and it was
for them the song-thrushes and skylarks gave their choicest
On that mid-April morning, when the rising sun gilded the Castle
turrets and flashed back from the many beautiful windows of
Heriot's Hospital, Tammy bundled his books under the table-tomb
of Mistress Jean Grant, went over to the rear of the Guildhall at
the top of the Row, and threw a handful of gravel up to Ailie's
window. Because of a grandmither Ailie, too, dwelt on a low
level. Her eager little face, lighted by sleep-dazzled blue eyes,
popped out with the surprising suddenness of the manikins in a
"In juist ane meenit, Tammy," she whispered, "no' to wauken the
grandmither." It was in so very short a minute that the lassie
climbed out onto the classic pediment of a tomb and dropped into
the kirkyard that her toilet was uncompleted. Tammy buttoned her
washed-out cotton gown at the back, and she sat on a slab to lace
her shoes. If the fun of giving Bobby his bath was to be enjoyed
to the full there must be no unnecessary delay. This
consideration led Tammy to observe:
"Ye're no' needin' to comb yer hair, Ailie. It leuks bonny
In truth, Ailie was one of those fortunate lassies whose crinkly,
gold-brown mop really looked best when in some disorder; and of
that advantage the little maid was well aware.
"I ken a' that, Tammy. I aye gie it a lick or twa wi' a comb the
nicht afore. Ca' the wee doggie."
Bobby fully understood that he was wanted for some serious
purpose, but it was a fresh morning of dew and he, apparently,
was in the highest of spirits. So he gave Ailie a chase over the
sparkling grass and under the showery shrubbery. When he dropped
at last on Auld Jock's grave Tammy captured him. The little dog
could always be caught there, in a caressable state of exhaustion
or meditation, for, sooner or later, he returned to the spot from
every bit of work or play. No one would have known it for a place
of burial at all. Mr. Brown knew it only by the rose bush at its
head and by Bobby's haunting it, for the mound had sunk to the
general level of the terrace on which it lay, and spreading
crocuses poked their purple and gold noses through the crisp
spring turf. But for the wee, guardian dog the man who lay
beneath had long lost what little identity he had ever possessed.
Now, as the three lay there, the lassie as flushed and damp as
some water-nymph, Bobby panting and submitting to a petting,
Tammy took the little dog's muzzle between his thin hands, parted
the veil, and looked into the soft brown eyes.
"Leak, Ailie, Bobby's wantin' somethin', an' is juist haudin'
It was true. For all his gaiety in play and his energy at work
Bobby's eyes had ever a patient, wistful look, not unlike the
crippled laddie's. Ah, who can say that it did not require as
much courage and gallant bravado on the part of that small,
bereft creature to enable him to live at all, as it did for Tammy
to face his handicapped life and "no' to remember 'is bad legs"?
In the bath on the rear steps of the lodge Bobby swam and
splashed, and scattered foam with his excited tail. He would not
stand still to be groomed, but wriggled and twisted and leaped
upon the children, putting his shaggy wet paws roguishly in their
faces. But he stood there at last, after the jolliest romp, in
which the old kirkyard rang with laughter, and oh! so bonny, in
his rippling coat of dark silver. No sooner was he released than
he dashed around the kirk and back again, bringing his latest
bone in his mouth. To his scratching on the stone sill, for he
had been taught not to scratch on the panel, the door was opened
by snod and smiling Mistress Jeanie, who invited these slum
bairns into such a cozy, spotless kitchen as was not possible in
the tenements. Mr. Brown sat by the hearth, bundled in blue and
white blankets of wonderfully blocked country weaving. Bobby put
his fore paws on the caretaker's chair and laid his precious bone
in the man's lap.
"Eh, ye takin' bit rascal; loup!" Bobby jumped to the patted
knee, turned around and around on the soft bed that invited him,
licked the beaming old face to show his sympathy and
friendliness, and jumped down again. Mr. Brown sighed because
Bobby steadily but amiably refused to be anybody's lap-dog. The
caretaker turned to the admiring children.
"Ilka morn he fetches 'is bit bane up, thinkin' it a braw giftie
for an ill man. An' syne he veesits me twa times i' the day,
juist bidin' a wee on the hearthstane, lollin' 'is tongue an'
waggin' 'is tail, cheerfu'-like. Bobby has mair gude sense in 'is
heid than mony a man wha comes ben the hoose, wi' a lang face, to
let me ken I'm gangin' to dee. Gin I keep snug an' canny it
wullna gang to the heart. Jeanie, woman, fetch ma fife, wull ye?"
Then there were strange doings in the kirkyard lodge. James Brown
"wasna gangin' to dee" before his time came, at any rate. In his
youth, as under-gardener on a Highland estate, he had learned to
play the piccolo flute, and lately he had revived the pastoral
art of piping just because it went so well with Bobby's delighted
legs. To the sonsie air of "Bonnie Dundee" Bobby hopped and
stepped and louped, and he turned about on his hind feet, his
shagged fore paws drooped on his breast as daintily as the hands
in the portraits of early Victorian ladies. The fire burned
cheerily in the polished grate, and winked on every shining thing
in the room; primroses bloomed in the diamond-paned casement; the
skylark fluttered up and sang in its cage; the fife whistled as
gaily as a blackbird, and the little dog danced with a comic
clumsiness that made them all double up with laughter. The place
was so full of brightness, and of kind and merry hearts, that
there was room for nothing else. Not one of them dreamed that the
shadow of the law was even then over this useful and lovable
little dog's head.
A glance at the wag-at-the-wa' clock reminded Ailie that Mr.
Traill might be waiting for Bobby.
Curious about the mystery, the children took the little dog down
to the gate, happily. They were sobered, however, when Mr. Traill
appeared, looking very grand in his Sabbath clothes. He inspected
Bobby all over with anxious scrutiny, and gave each of the bairns
a threepenny-bit, but he had no blithe greeting for them. Much
preoccupied, he went off at once, with the animated little muff
of a dog at his heels. In truth, Mr. Traill was thinking about
how he might best plead Bobby's cause with the Lord Provost. The
note that was handed him, on leaving the Burgh court the day
before, had read:
"Meet me at the Regent's Tomb in St. Giles at eight o'clock in
the morning, and bring the wee Highlander with you.--
On the first reading the landlord's spirits had risen, out of all
proportion to the cause, owing to his previous depression. But,
after all, the appointment had no official character, since the
Regent's Tomb in St. Giles had long been a sort of town pump for
the retailing of gossip and for the transaction of trifling
affairs of all sorts. The fate of this little dog was a small
matter, indeed, and so it might be thought fitting, by the powers
that be, that it should be decided at the Regent's Tomb rather
than in the Burgh court.
To the children, who watched from the kirkyard gate until Mr.
Traill and Bobby were hidden by the buildings on the bridge, it
was no' canny. The busy landlord lived mostly in shirt-sleeves
and big white apron, ready to lend a hand in the rush hours, and
he never was known to put on his black coat and tall hat on a
week-day, except to attend a funeral. However, there was the
day's work to be done. Tammy had a lesson still to get, and
returned to the kirkyard, and Ailie ran up to the dining-rooms.
On the step she collided with a red headed, freckle-faced young
man who asked for Mr. Traill.
"He isna here." The shy lassie was made almost speechless by
recognizing, in this neat, well-spoken clerk, an old Heriot boy,
once as poor as herself.
"Do you wark for him, lassie? Weel, do you know how he cam' out
in the Burgh court about the bit dog?"
There was only one "bit dog" in the world to Ailie. Wild eyed
with alarm at mention of the Burgh court, in connection with that
beloved little pet, she stammered: "It's--it's--no' a coort he
gaed to. Maister Traill's tak'n Bobby awa' to a braw kirk."
Sandy nodded his head. "Ay, that would be the police office in
St. Giles. Lassie, tell Mr. Traill I sent the Lord Provost, and
if he's needing a witness to ca' on Sandy McGregor. "
Ailie stared after him with frightened eyes. Into her mind
flashed that ominous remark of the policeman two days before: "I
didna ken ye had a dog, John?" She overtook Sandy in front of the
sheriff's court on the bridge.
"What--what hae the police to do wi' bittie dogs?"
"If a dog has nae master to pay for his license the police can
tak' him up and put him out o' the way."
"Hoo muckle siller are they wantin'?"
"Seven shullings. Gude day, lassie; I'm fair late." Sandy was not
really alarmed about Bobby since the resourceful Mr. Traill had
taken up his cause, and he had no idea of the panic of grief and
fright that overwhelmed this forlorn child.
Seven shullings! It was an enormous sum to the tenement bairn,
whose half-blind grandmither knitted and knitted in a dimly
lighted room, and hoarded halfpennies and farthings to save
herself from pauper burial. Seven shullings would pay a month's
rent for any one of the crowded rooms in which a family lived.
Ailie herself, an untrained lassie who scarcely knew the use of a
toasting-fork, was overpaid by generous Mr. Traill at sixpence
a day. Seven shullings to permit one little dog to live! It did
not occur to Ailie that this was a sum Mr. Traill could easily
pay. No' onybody at all had seven shullings all at once! But, oh!
everybody had pennies and halfpennies and farthings, and she and
Tammy together had a sixpence.
Darting back to the gate, to catch the laddie before he could be
off to school, she ran straight into the policeman, who stood
with his hand on the wicket. He eyed her sharply.
"Eh, lassie, I was gangin' to spier at the lodge, gin there's a
bit dog leevin' i' the kirkyaird."
"I--I--dinna ken." Her voice was unmanageable. She had left to
her only the tenement-bred instinct of concealment of any and all
facts from an officer of the law.
"Ye dinna ken! Maister Traill said i' the coort a' the bairns
aboot kenned the dog. Was he leein'?"
The question stung her into angry admission. "He wadna be leein'.
But--but--the bittie--dog--isna here noo."
"Syne, whaur is he? Oot wi' it!"
"I--dinna--ken!" She cowered in abject fear against the wall. She
could not know that this officer was suffering a bad attack of
shame for his shabby part in the affair. Satisfied that the
little dog really did live in the kirkyard, he turned back to the
bridge. When Tammy came out presently he found Ailie crumpled up
in a limp little heap in the gateway alcove. In a moment the tale
of Bobby's peril was told. The laddie dropped his books and his
crutches on the pavement, and his head in his helpless arms, and
cried. He had small faith in Ailie's suddenly conceived plan to
collect the seven shullings among the dwellers in the tenements.
"Do ye ken hoo muckle siller seven shullin's wad be? It's
auchty-fower pennies, a hundred an' saxty-aucht ha'pennies an'--
an'--I canna think hoo mony farthings."
"I dinna care a bittie bit. There's mair folk aroond the
kirkyaird than there's farthings i' twa, three times seven
shullin's. An' maist ilka body kens Bobby. An' we hae a saxpence
atween us noo."
"Maister Brown wad gie us anither saxpence gin he had ane," Tammy
"Nae, he's fair ill. Gin he doesna keep canny it wull gang to 'is
heart. He'd be aff 'is heid, aboot Bobby. Oh, Tammy, Maister
Traill gaed to gie 'im up! He was wearin' a' 'is gude claes an' a
lang face, to gang to Bobby's buryin'."
This dreadful thought spurred them to instant action. By way of
mutual encouragement they went together through the sculptured
doorway, that bore the arms of the ancient guild of the
candlemakers on the lintel, and into the carting office on the
"Do ye ken Greyfriars Bobby?" Tammy asked, timidly, of the man in
He glowered at the laddie and shook his head. "Havers, mannie;
there's no' onybody named for an auld buryin' groond."
The children fled. There was no use at all in wasting time on
folk who did not know Bobby, for it would take too long to
explain him. But, alas, they soon discovered that "maist ilka
body" did not know the little dog, as they had so confidently
supposed. He was sure to be known only in the rooms at the rear
that overlooked the kirkyard, and, as one went upward, his
identity became less and less distinct. He was such a wee, wee,
canny terrier, and so many of the windows had their views
constantly shut out by washings. Around the inner courts, where
unkempt women brought every sort of work out to the light on the
galleries and mended worthless rags, gossiped, and nursed their
babies on the stairs, Bobby had sometimes been heard of, but
almost never seen. Children often knew him where their elders did
not. By the time Ailie and Tammy had worked swiftly down. to the
bottom of the Row other children began to follow them, moved by
the peril of the little dog to sympathy and eager sacrifice.
"Bide a wee, Ailie!" cried one, running to overtake the lassie.
"Here's a penny. I was gangin' for milk for the porridge. We can
do wi'oot the day."
And there was the money for the broth bone, and the farthing that
would have filled the gude-man's evening pipe, and the ha'penny
for the grandmither's tea. It was the world-over story of the
poor helping the poor. The progress of Ailie and Tammy through
the tenements was like that of the piper through Hamelin. The
children gathered and gathered, and followed at their heels,
until a curiously quiet mob of threescore or more crouched in the
court of the old hall of the Knights of St. John, in the
Grassmarket, to count the many copper coins in Tammy's woolen
"Five shullin's, ninepence, an' a ha'penny," Tammy announced. And
then, after calculation on his fingers, "It'll tak' a shullin'
an' twapenny ha'penny mair."
There was a gasping breath of bitter disappointment, and one wee
laddie wailed for lost Bobby. At that Ailie dashed the tears from
her own eyes and sprang up, spurred to desperate effort. She
would storm the all but hopeless attic chambers. Up the twisting
turnpike stairs on the outer wall she ran, to where the swallows
wheeled about the cornices, and she could hear the iron cross of
the Knights Templars creak above the gable. Then, all the way
along a dark passage, at one door after another, she knocked, and
"Do ye ken Greyfriars Bobby?"
At some of the doors there was no answer. At others students
stared out at the bairn, not in the least comprehending this wild
crying. Tears of anger and despair flooded the little maid's blue
eyes when she beat on the last door of the row with her doubled
"Do ye ken Greyfriars Bobby? The police are gangin' to mak' 'im
be deid--" As the door was flung open she broke into stormy
"Hey, lassie. I know the dog. What fashes you?"
There stood a tall student, a wet towel about his head, and,
behind him, the rafters of the dormer-lighted closet were as
thickly hung with bunches of dried herbs from the Botanical
Garden as any auld witch wife's kitchen.
"Oh, are ye kennin' 'im? Isna he bonny an' sonsie? Gie me the
shullin' an' twapenny ha' penny we're needin', so the police
wullna put 'im awa'."
"Losh! It's a license you're wanting? I wish I had as many
shullings as I've had gude times with Bobby, and naething to pay
for his braw company."
For this was Geordie Ross, going through the Medical College with
the help of Heriot's fund that, large as it was, was never quite
enough for all the poor and ambitious youths of Edinburgh. And
so, although provided for in all necessary ways, his pockets were
nearly as empty as of old. He could spare a sixpence if he made
his dinner on a potato and a smoked herring. That he was very
willing to do, once he had heard the tale, and he went with Ailie
to the lodgings of other students, and demanded their siller with
no explanation at all.
"Give the lassie what you can spare, man, or I'll have to give
you a licking," was his gay and convincing argument, from door to
door, until the needed amount was made up. Ailie fled recklessly
down the stairs, and cried triumphantly to the upward-looking,
silent crowd that had grown and grown around Tammy, like some
host of children crusaders.
While Ailie and Tammy were collecting the price of his ransom
Bobby was exploring the intricately cut-up interior of old St.
Giles, sniffing at the rifts in flimsily plastered partitions
that the Lord Provost pointed out to Mr. Traill. Rats were in
those crumbling walls. If there had been a hole big enough to
admit him, the plucky little dog would have gone in after them.
Forbidden to enlarge one, Bobby could only poke his indignant
muzzle into apertures, and brace himself as for a fray. And, at
the very smell of him, there were such squeakings and scamperings
in hidden runways as to be almost beyond a terrier's endurance.
The Lord Provost watched him with an approving eye.
"When these partitions are tak'n down Bobby would be vera useful
in ridding our noble old cathedral of vermin. But that will not
be in this wee Highlander's day nor, I fear, in mine." About the
speech of this Peebles man, who had risen from poverty to
distinction, learning, wealth, and many varieties of usefulness,
there was still an engaging burr. And his manner was so simple
that he put the humblest at his ease.
There had been no formality about the meeting at all.
Glenormiston was standing in a rear doorway of the cathedral near
the Regent's Tomb, looking out into the sunny square of
Parliament Close, when Mr. Traill and Bobby appeared. Near
seventy, at that time, a backward sweep of white hair and a
downward flow of square-cut, white beard framed a boldly featured
face and left a generous mouth uncovered.
"Gude morning, Mr. Traill. So that is the famous dog that has
stood sentinel for more than eight years. He should be tak'n up
to the Castle and shown to young soldiers who grumble at
twenty-four hours' guard duty. How do you do, sir!" The great
man, whom the Queen knighted later, and whom the University he
was too poor to attend as a lad honored with a degree, stooped
from the Regent's Tomb and shook Bobby's lifted paw with grave
courtesy. Then, leaving the little dog to entertain himself, he
turned easily to his own most absorbing interest of the moment.
"Do you happen to care for Edinburgh antiquities, Mr. Traill?
Reformation piety made sad havoc of art everywhere. Man, come
Down into the lime dust the Lord Provost and the landlord went,
in their good black clothes, for a glimpse of a bit of
sculpturing on a tomb that had been walled in to make a passage.
A loose brick removed, behind and above it, the sun flashed
through fragments of emerald and ruby glass of a saint's robe, in
a bricked up window. Such buried and forgotten treasure,
Glenormiston explained, filled the entire south transept. In the
High Kirk, that then filled the eastern end of the cathedral,
they went up a cheap wooden stairway, to the pew-filled gallery
that was built into the old choir, and sat down. Mr. Traill's
eyes sparkled. Glenormiston was a man after his own heart, and
they were getting along famously; but, oh! it began to seem more
and more unlikely that a Lord Provost, who was concerned about
such braw things as the restoration of the old cathedral and
letting the sun into the ancient tenements, should be much
interested in a small, masterless dog.
"Man, auld John Knox will turn over in his bit grave in
Parliament Close if you put a 'kist o' whustles' in St. Giles."
Mr. Traill laughed.
"I admit I might have stopped short of the organ but for the
courageous example of Doctor Lee in Greyfriars. It was from him
that I had a quite extravagant account of this wee, leal
Highlander a few years ago. I have aye meant to go to see him;
but I'm a busy man and the matter passed out of mind. Mr. Traill,
I'm your sadly needed witness: I heard you from the doorway of
the court-room, and I sent up a note confirming your story and
asking, as a courtesy, that the case be turned over to me for
some exceptional disposal. Would you mind telling another man the
tale that so moved Doctor Lee? I've aye had a fondness for the
So there, above the pulpit of the High Kirk of St. Giles, the
tale was told again, so strangely did this little dog's life come
to be linked with the highest and lowest, the proudest and
humblest in the Scottish capital. Now, at mention of Auld Jock,
Bobby put his shagged paws up inquiringly on the edge of the pew,
so that Mr. Traill lifted him. He lay down flat between the two
men, with his nose on his paws, and his little tousled head under
the Lord Provost's hand.
Auld Jock lived again in that recital. Glenormiston, coming from
the country of the Ettrick shepherd, knew such lonely figures,
and the pathos of old age and waning powers that drove them in to
the poor quarters of towns. There was pictured the stormy night
and the simple old man who sought food and shelter, with the
devoted little dog that "wasna 'is ain." Sick unto death he was,
and full of ignorant prejudices and fears that needed wise
handling. And there was the well-meaning landlord's blunder,
humbly confessed, and the obscure and tragic result of it, in a
foul and swarming rookery "juist aff the Coogate."
"Man, it was Bobby that told me of his master's condition. He
begged me to help Auld Jock, and what did I do but let my fule
tongue wag about doctors. I nae more than turned my back than the
auld body was awa' to his meeserable death. It has aye eased my
conscience a bit to feed the dog."
"That's not the only reason why you have fed him." There was a
twinkle in the Lord Provost's eye, and Mr. Traill blushed.
"Weel, I'll admit to you that I'm fair fulish about Bobby. Man,
I've courted that sma' terrier for eight and a half years. He's
as polite and friendly as the deil, but he'll have naething to do
with me or with onybody. I wonder the intelligent bit doesn't
bite me for the ill turn I did his master."
Then there was the story of Bobby's devotion to Auld Jock's
memory to be told--the days when he faced starvation rather than
desert that grave, the days when he lay cramped under the fallen
table-tomb, and his repeated, dramatic escapes from the Pentland
farm. His never broken silence in the kirkyard was only to be
explained by the unforgotten orders of his dead master. His
intelligent effort to make himself useful to the caretaker had
won indulgence. His ready obedience, good temper, high spirits
and friendliness had made him the special pet of the tenement
children and the Heriot laddies. At the very last Mr. Traill
repeated the talk he had had with the non-commissioned officer
from the Castle, and confessed his own fear of some forlorn end
for Bobby. It was true he was nobody's dog; and he was fascinated
by soldiers and military music, and so, perhaps--
"I'll no' be reconciled to parting--Eh, man, that's what Auld
Jock himsel' said when he was telling me that the bit dog must be
returned to the sheep-farm: 'It wull be sair partin'.'" Tears
stood in the unashamed landlord's eyes.
Glenormiston was pulling Bobby's silkily fringed ears
thoughtfully. Through all this talk about his dead master the
little dog had not stirred. For the second time that day Bobby's
veil was pushed back, first by the most unfortunate laddie in the
decaying tenements about Greyfriars, and now by the Lord Provost
of the ancient royal burgh and capital of Scotland. And both made
the same discovery. Deep-brown pools of love, young Bobby's eyes
had dwelt upon Auld Jock. Pools of sad memories they were now,
looking out wistfully and patiently upon a masterless world.
"Are you thinking he would be reconciled to be anywhere away from
that grave? Look, man!"
"Lord forgive me! I aye thought the wee doggie happy enough."
After a moment the two men went down the gallery stairs in
silence. Bobby dropped from the bench and fell into a subdued
trot at their heels. As they left the cathedral by the door that
led into High Street Glenormiston remarked, with a mysterious
"I'm thinking Edinburgh can do better by wee Bobby than to banish
him to the Castle. But wait a bit, man. A kirk is not the place
for settling a small dog's affairs."
The Lord Provost led the way westward along the cathedral's
front. On High Street, St. Giles had three doorways. The middle
door then gave admittance to the police office; the western
opened into the Little Kirk, popularly known as Haddo's Hole. It
was into this bare, whitewashed chapel that Glenormiston turned
to get some restoration drawings he had left on the pulpit. He
was explaining them to Mr. Traill when he was interrupted by a
murmur and a shuffle, as of many voices and feet, and an odd
tap-tap-tapping in the vestibule.
Of all the doorways on the north and south fronts of St. Giles
the one to the Little Kirk was nearest the end of George IV
Bridge. Confused by the vast size and imposing architecture of
the old cathedral, these slum children, in search of the police
office, went no farther, but ventured timidly into the open
vestibule of Haddo's Hole. Any doubts they might have had about
this being the right place were soon dispelled. Bobby heard them
and darted out to investigate. And suddenly they were all inside,
overwrought Ailie on the floor, clasping the little dog and
"Bobby's no' deid! Bobby's no' deid! Oh, Maister Traill, ye
wullna hae to gie 'im up to the police! Tammy's got the seven
shullin's in 'is bonnet!"
And there was small Tammy, crutches dropped and pouring that
offering of love and mercy out at the foot of an altar in old St.
Giles. Such an astonishing pile of copper coins it was, that it
looked to the landlord like the loot of some shopkeeper's change
"Eh, puir laddie, whaur did ye get it a' noo?" he asked, gravely.
Tammy was very self-possessed and proud. "The bairnies aroond the
kirkyaird gie'd it to pay the police no' to mak' Bobby be deid."
Mr. Traill flashed a glance at Glenormiston. It was a look at
once of triumph and of humility over the Herculean deed of these
disinherited children. But the Lord Provost was gazing at that
crowd of pale bairns, products of the Old Town's ancient slums,
and feeling, in his own person, the civic shame of it. And he was
thinking, thinking, that he must hasten that other project
nearest his heart, of knocking holes in solid rows of foul
cliffs, in the Cowgate, on High Street, and around Greyfriars. It
was an incredible thing that such a flower of affection should
have bloomed so sweetly in such sunless cells. And it was a new
gospel, at that time, that a dog or a horse or a bird might have
its mission in this world of making people kinder and happier.
They were all down on the floor, in the space before the altar,
unwashed, uncombed, unconscious of the dirty rags that scarce
covered them; quite happy and self-forgetful in the charming
friskings and friendly lollings of the well-fed, carefully
groomed, beautiful little dog. Ailie, still so excited that she
forgot to be shy, put Bobby through his pretty tricks. He rolled
over and over, he jumped, he danced to Tammy's whistling of
"Bonnie Dundee," he walked on his hind legs and louped at a
bonnet, he begged, he lifted his short shagged paw and shook
hands. Then he sniffed at the heap of coins, looked up
inquiringly at Mr. Traill, and, concluding that here was some
property to be guarded, stood by the "siller" as stanchly as a
soldier. It was just pure pleasure to watch him.
Very suddenly the Lord Provost changed his mind. A sacred kirk
was the very best place of all to settle this little dog's
affairs. The offering of these children could not be refused. It
should lie there, below the altar, and be consecrated to some
other blessed work; and he would do now and here what he had
meant to do elsewhere and in a quite different way. He lifted
Bobby to the pulpit so that all might see him, and he spoke so
that all might understand.
"Are ye kennin' what it is to gie the freedom o' the toon to
"It's--it's when the bonny Queen comes an' ye gie her the keys to
the burgh gates that are no' here ony mair." Tammy, being in
Heriot's, was a laddie of learning.
"Weel done, laddie. Lang syne there was a wa' aroond Edinburgh
wi' gates in it." Oh yes, all these bairnies knew that, and the
fragment of it that was still to be seen outside and above the
Grassmarket, with its sentry tower by the old west port. "Gin a
fey king or ither grand veesitor cam', the Laird Provost an' the
maigestrates gied 'im the keys so he could gang in an' oot at 'is
pleesure. The wa's are a' doon noo, an' the gates no' here ony
mair, but we hae the keys, an' we mak' a show o' gien' 'em to
veesitors wha are vera grand or wise or gude, or juist usefu' by
"Maister Gladstane," said Tammy.
"Ay, we honor the Queen's meenisters; an' Miss Nightingale, wha
nursed the soldiers i' the war; an' Leddy Burdett-Coutts, wha
gies a' her siller an' a' her heart to puir folk an' is aye kind
to horses and dogs an' singin' birdies; an' we gie the keys to
heroes o' the war wha are brave an' faithfu'. An' noo, there's a
wee bit beastie. He's weel-behavin', an' isna makin' a blatterin'
i' an auld kirkyaird. He aye minds what he's bidden to do. He's
cheerfu' an' busy, keepin' the proolin' pussies an' vermin frae
the sma' birdies i' the nests. He mak's friends o' ilka body, an'
he's faithfu'. For a deid man he lo'ed he's gaun hungry; an' he
hasna forgotten 'im or left 'im by 'is lane at nicht for mair
years than some o' ye are auld. An' gin ye find 'im lyin' canny,
an' ye tak' a keek into 'is bonny brown een, ye can see he's aye
greetin'. An' so, ye didna ken why, but ye a' lo'ed the lanely
"Bobby!" It was an excited breath of a word from the wide-eyed
"Bobby! Havers! A bittie dog wadna ken what to do wi' keys."
But Glenormiston was smiling, and these sharp witted slum bairns
exchanged knowing glances. "Whaur's that sma'--?" He dived into
this pocket and that, making a great pretense of searching, until
he found a narrow band of new leather, with holes in one end and
a stout buckle on the other, and riveted fast in the middle of it
was a shining brass plate. Tammy read the inscription aloud:
FROM THE LORD PROVOST
The wonderful collar was passed from hand to hand in awed
silence. The children stared and stared at this white-haired and
bearded man, who "wasna grand ava," but who talked to them as
simply and kindly as a grandfaither. He went right on talking to
them in his homely way to put them at their ease, telling them
that nobody at all, not even the bonny Queen, could be more than
kind and well-behaving and faithful to duty. Wee Bobby was all
that, and so "Gin dizzens an' dizzens o' bairns war kennin' 'im,
an' wad fetch seven shullin's i' their ha'pennies to a kirk, they
could buy the richt for the braw doggie to be leevin', the care
o' them a', i' the auld kirkyaird o' Greyfriars. An' he maun hae
the collar so the police wull ken 'im an' no' ever tak' 'im up
for a puir, gaen-aboot dog."
The children quite understood the responsibility they assumed,
and their eyes shone with pride at the feeling that, if more
fortunate friends failed, this little creature must never be
allowed to go hungry. And when he came to die--oh, in a very,
very few years, for they must remember that "a doggie isna as
lang-leevin' as folk"--they must not forget that Bobby would not
be permitted to be buried in the kirkyard.
"We'll gie 'im a grand buryin'," said Tammy. "We'll find a green
brae by a babblin' burn aneath a snawy hawthorn, whaur the
throstle sings an' the blackbird whustles." For the crippled
laddie had never forgotten Mr. Traill's description of a proper
picnic, and that must, indeed, be a wee dog's heaven.
"Ay, that wull do fair weel." The collar had come back to him by
this time, and the Lord Provost buckled it securely about Bobby's
The music of bagpipe, fife and drum brought them all out of
Haddo's Hole into High Street. It was the hour of the morning
drill, and the soldiers were marching out of the Castle. From the
front of St. Giles, that jutted into the steep thoroughfare, they
could look up to where the street widened to the esplanade on
Castle Hill. Rank after rank of scarlet coats, swinging kilts and
sporrans, and plumed bonnets appeared. The sun flashed back from
rifle barrels and bayonets and from countless bright buttons.
A number of the older laddies ran up the climbing street. Mr.
Traill called Bobby back and, with a last grip of Glenormiston's
hand, set off across the bridge. To the landlord the world seemed
a brave place to be living in, the fabric of earth and sky and
human society to be woven of kindness. Having urgent business of
buying supplies in the markets at Broughton and Lauriston, Mr.
Traill put Bobby inside the kirkyard gate and hurried away to get
into his everyday clothing. After dinner, or tea, he promised
himself the pleasure of an hour at the lodge, to tell Mr. Brown
the wonderful news, and to show him Bobby's braw collar.
When, finally, he was left alone, Bobby trotted around the kirk,
to assure himself that Auld Jock's grave was unmolested. There he
turned on his back, squirmed and rocked on the crocuses, and
tugged at the unaccustomed collar. His inverted struggles, low
growlings and furry contortions set the wrens to scolding and the
redbreasts to making nervous inquiries. Much nestbuilding,
tuneful courtship, and masculine blustering was going on, and
there was little police duty for Bobby. After a time he sat up on
the table-tomb, pensively. With Mr. Brown confined, to the lodge,
and Mistress Jeanie in close attendance upon him there, the
kirkyard was a lonely place for a sociable little dog; and a
soft, spring day given over to brooding beside a beloved grave,
was quite too heart-breaking a thing to contemplate. Just for
cheerful occupation Bobby had another tussle with the collar. He
pulled it so far under his thatch that no one could have guessed
that he had a collar on at all, when he suddenly righted himself
and scampered away to the gate.
The music grew louder and came nearer. The first of the
route-marching that the Castle garrison practiced on occasional,
bright spring mornings was always a delightful surprise to the
small boys and dogs of Edinburgh. Usually the soldiers went down
High Street and out to Portobello on the sea. But a regiment of
tough and wiry Highlanders often took, by preference, the
mounting road to the Pentlands to get a whiff of heather in their
On they came, band playing, colors flying, feet moving in unison
with a march, across the viaduct bridge into Greyfriars Place.
Bobby was up on the wicket, his small, energetic body quivering
with excitement from his muzzle to his tail. If Mr. Traill had
been there he would surely have caught the infection, thrown care
to this sweet April breeze for once, and taken the wee terrier
for a run on the Pentland braes. The temptation was going by when
a preoccupied lady, with a sheaf of Easter lilies on her sable
arm, opened the wicket. Her ample Victorian skirts swept right
over the little dog, and when he emerged there was the gate
slightly ajar. Widening the aperture with nose and paws, Bobby
was off, skirmishing at large on the rear and flanks of the
troops, down the Burghmuir.
It may never have happened, in the years since Auld Jock died and
the farmer of Cauldbrae gave up trying to keep him on the hills,
that Bobby, had gone so far back on this once familiar road; and
he may not have recognized it at first, for the highways around
Edinburgh were everywhere much alike. This one alone began to
climb again. Up, up it toiled, for two weary miles, to the
hilltop toll-bar of Fairmilehead, and there the sounds and smells
that made it different from other roads began.
Five miles out of the city the halt was called, and the soldiers
flung themselves on the slope. Many experiences of route-marching
had taught Bobby that there was an interval of rest before the
return, so, with his nose to the ground, he started up the brae
on a pilgrimage to old shrines. just as in his puppyhood days, at
Auld Jock's heels, there was much shouting of men, barking of
collies, and bleating of sheep all the way up. Once he had to leave the road
until a driven flock had passed. Behind the sheep walked an old laborer in
hodden-gray, woolen bonnet, and shepherd's two-fold plaid, with a lamb in the
pouch of it. Bobby trembled at the apparition, sniffed at the hob-nailed
boots, and then, with drooped head and tail, trotted on up the slope.
Men and dogs were all out on the billowy pastures, and the farm-house of
Cauldbrae lay on the level terrace, seemingly deserted and steeped in
memories. A few moments before, a tall lassie had come out to listen to the
military music. A couple of hundred feet below, the coats of the soldiers
looked to her like poppies scattered on the heather. At the top of the brae
the wind was blowing a cold gale, so the maidie went up again, and around to a
bit of tangled garden on the sheltered side of the house. The "wee lassie
Elsie" was still a bairn in short skirts and braids, who lavished her soft
heart, as yet, on briar bushes and daisies.
Bobby made a tour of the sheepfold, the cowyard and byre, and he lingered
behind the byre, where Auld Jock had played with him on Sabbath afternoons. He
inspected the dairy, and the poultry-house where hens were sitting on their
nests. By and by he trotted around the house and came upon the lassie, busily
clearing winter rubbish from her posie bed. A dog changes very little in
appearance, but in eight and a half years a child grows into a different
person altogether. Bobby barked politely to let this strange lassie know that
he was there. In the next instant he knew her, for she whirled about and, in a
kind of glad wonder, cried out:
"Oh, Bobby! hae ye come hame? Mither, here's ma ain wee Bobby!" For she had
never given up the hope that this adored little pet would some day return to
"Havers, lassie, ye're aye seein' Bobby i' ilka Hielan' terrier, an' there's
mony o' them aboot."
The gude-wife looked from an attic window in the steep gable, and then hurried
down. "Weel, noo, ye're richt, Elsie. He wad be comin' wi' the regiment frae
the Castle. Bittie doggies an' laddies are fair daft aboot the soldiers. Ay,
he's bonny, an' weel cared for, by the ordinar'. I wonder gin he's still
leevin' i' the grand auld kirkyaird."
Wary of her remembered endearments, Bobby kept a safe distance from the
maidie, but he sat up and lolled his tongue, quite willing to pay her a
friendly visit. From that she came to a wrong conclusion: "Sin' he cam' o' his
ain accord he's like to bide." Her eyes were blue stars.
"I wadna be coontin' on that, lassie. An' I wadna speck a door on 'im anither
time. Grin he wanted to get oot he'd dig aneath a floor o' stane. Leuk at
that, noo! The bonny wee is greetin' for Auld Jock."
It was true, for, on entering the kitchen, Bobby went straight to the bench in
the corner and lay down flat under it. Elsie sat beside him, just as she had
done of old. Her eyes overflowed so in sympathy that the mother was quite
distracted. This would not do at all.
"Lassie, are ye no' rememberin' Bobby was fair fond o' moor-hens' eggs fried
wi' bits o' cheese? He wullna be gettin' thae things; an' it wad be maist
michty, noo, gin ye couldna win the bittie dog awa' frae the reekie auld toon.
Gang oot wi' 'im an' rin on the brae an' bid 'im find the nests aneath the
In a moment they were out on the heather, and it seemed, indeed, as if Bobby
might be won. He frisked and barked at Elsie's heels, chased rabbits and
flushed the grouse; and when he ran into a peat-darkened tarp, rimmed with
moss, he had such a cold and splashy swim as quite to give a little dog a
distaste for warm, soapy water in a claes tub. He shook and ran himself dry,
and he raced the laughing child until they both dropped panting on the
wind-rippled heath. Then he hunted on the ground under the gorse for those
nests that had a dozen or more eggs in them. He took just one from each in his
mouth, as Auld Jock had taught him to do. On the kitchen hearth he ate the
savory meal with much satisfaction and polite waggings. But when the bugle
sounded from below to form ranks, he pricked his drop ears and started for the
Before he knew what had happened he was inside the poultry-house. In another
instant he was digging frantically in the soft earth under the door. When the
lassie lay down across the crack he stopped digging, in consternation. His
sense of smell told him what it was that shut out the strip of light; and a
bairn's soft body is not a proper object of attack for a little dog, no matter
how desperate the emergency. There was no time to be lost, for the drums began
to beat the march. Having to get out very quickly, Bobby did a forbidden
thing: swiftly and noisily he dashed around the dark place, and there arose
such wild squawkings and rushings of wings as to bring the gude-wife out of
the house in alarm.
"Lassie, I canna hae the bittie dog in wi the broodin' chuckies!"
She flung the door wide. Bobby shot through, and into Elsie's outstretched
arms. She held to him desperately, while he twisted and struggled and strained
away; and presently something shining worked into view, through the disordered
thatch about his neck. The mother had come to the help of the child, and it
was she who read the inscription on the brazen plate aloud.
"Preserve us a'! Lassie, he's been tak'n by the Laird Provost an' gien the
name o' the auld kirkyaird. He's an ower grand doggie. Ma puir bairnie, dinna
greet so sair!" For the little girl suddenly released the wee Highlander and
sobbed on her mother's shoulder.
"He isna ma ain Bobby ony mair!" She "couldna thole" to watch him as he
tumbled down the brae.
On the outward march, among the many dogs and laddies that had followed the
soldiers, Bobby escaped notice. But most of these had gone adventuring in
Swanston Dell, to return to the city by the gorge of Leith Water. Now,
traveling three miles to the soldiers' one, scampering in wide circles over
the fields, swimming burns, scrambling under hedges, chasing whaups into
piping cries, barking and louping in pure exuberance of spirits, many eyes
looked upon him admiringly, and discontented mouths turned upward at the
corners. It is not the least of a little dog's missions in life to communicate
his own irresponsible gaiety to men.
If the return had been over George IV Bridge Bobby would, no doubt, have
dropped behind at Mr. Traill's or at the kirkyard. But on the Burghmuir the
troops swung eastward until they rounded Arthur's Seat and met the cavalry
drilling before the barracks at Piershill. Such pretty maneuvering of horse
and foot took place below Holyrood Palace as quite to enrapture a terrier.
When the infantry marched up the Canongate and High Street, the mounted men
following and the bands playing at full blast, the ancient thoroughfare was
quickly lined with cheering crowds, and faces looked down from ten tiers of
windows on a beautiful spectacle. Bobby did not know when the bridge-approach
was passed; and then, on Castle Hill, he was in an unknown region. There the
street widened to the great square of the esplanade. The cavalry wheeled and
dashed down High Street, but the infantry marched on and up, over the sounding
drawbridge that spanned a dry moat of the Middle Ages, and through a
deep-arched gateway of masonry.
The outer gate to the Castle was wider than the opening into many an Edinburgh
wynd; but Bobby stopped, uncertain as to where this narrow roadway, that
curved upward to the right, might lead. It was not a dark fissure in a cliff
of houses, but was bounded on the outer side by a loopholed wall, and on the
inner by a rocky ledge of ascending levels. Wherever the shelf was of
sufficient breadth a battery of cannon was mounted, and such a flood of light
fell from above and flashed on polished steel and brass as to make the little
dog blink in bewilderment. And he whirled like a rotary sweeper in the dusty
road and yelped when the time-gun, in the half-moon battery at the left of the
gate and behind him, crashed and shook the massive rock.
He barked and barked, and dashed toward the insulting clamor. The dauntless
little dog and his spirited protest were so out of proportion to the huge
offense that the guard laughed, and other soldiers ran out of the guard houses
that flanked the gate. They would have put the noisy terrier out at once, but
Bobby was off, up the curving roadway into the Castle. The music had ceased,
and the soldiers had disappeared over the rise. Through other dark arches of
masonry he ran. On the crest were two ways to choose--the roadway on around
and past the barracks, and a flight of steps cut steeply in the living rock of
the ledge, and leading up to the King's Bastion. Bobby took the stairs at a
On the summit there was nothing at all beside a tiny, ancient stone chapel
with a Norman arched and sculptured doorway, and guarding it an enormous burst
cannon. But these ruins were the crown jewels of the fortifications--their
origins lost in legends--and so they were cared for with peculiar reverence.
Sergeant Scott of the Royal Engineers himself, in fatigue-dress, was down on
his knees before St. Margaret's oratory, pulling from a crevice in the
foundations a knot of grass that was at its insidious work of time and change.
As Bobby dashed up to the citadel, still barking, the man jumped to his feet.
Then he slapped his thigh and laughed. Catching the animated little bundle of
protest the sergeant set him up for inspection on the shattered breeching of
"Losh! The sma' dog cam' by 'is ainsel'! He could no' resist the braw soldier
laddies. 'He's a dog o' discreemination,' eh? Gin he bides a wee, noo, it wull
tak' the conceit oot o' the innkeeper." He turned to gather up his tools, for
the first dinner bugle was blowing. Bobby knew by the gun that it was the
dinner-hour, but he had been fed at the farm and was not hungry. He might as
well see a bit more of life. He sat upon the cannon, not in the least
impressed by the honor, and lolled his tongue.
In Edinburgh Castle there was nothing to alarm a little dog. A dozen or more
large buildings, in three or four groups, and representing many periods of
architecture, lay to the south and west on the lowest terraces, and about them
were generous parked spaces. Into the largest of the buildings, a long,
four-storied barracks, the soldiers had vanished. And now, at the blowing of a
second bugle, half a hundred orderlies hurried down from a modern cook-house,
near the summit, with cans of soup and meat and potatoes. The sergeant
followed one of these into a room on the front of the barracks. In their serge
fatigue-tunics the sixteen men about the long table looked as different from
the gay soldiers of the march as though so many scarlet and gold and bonneted
butterflies had turned back into sad-colored grubs.
"Private McLean," he called to his batman who, for one-and-six a week, cared
for his belongings, "tak' chairge o' the dog, wull ye, an' fetch 'im to the
non-com mess when ye come to put ma kit i' gude order."
Before he could answer the bombardment of questions about Bobby the door was
opened again. The men dropped their knives and forks and stood at attention.
The officer of the day was making the rounds of the forty or fifty such rooms
in the barracks to inquire of the soldiers if their dinner was satisfactory.
He recognized at once the attractive little Skye that had taken the eyes of
the men on the march, and asked about him. Sergeant Scott explained that Bobby
had no owner. He was living, by permission, in Greyfriars kirkyard, guarding
the grave of a long-dead, humble master, and was fed by the landlord of the
dining-rooms near the gate. If the little dog took a fancy to garrison life,
and the regiment to him, he thought Mr. Traill, who had the best claim upon
him, might consent to his transfer to the Castle. After orders, at sunset, he
would take Bobby down to the restaurant himself.
"I wish you good luck, Sergeant." The officer whistled, and Bobby leaped upon
him and off again, and indulged in many inconsequent friskings. "Before you
take him home fetch him over to the officers' mess at dinner. It is guest
night, and he is sure to interest the gentlemen. A loyal little creature who
has guarded his dead master's grave for more than eight years deserves to have
a toast drunk to him by the officers of the Queen. But it's an extraordinary
story, and it doesn't sound altogether probable. Jolly little beggar!" He
patted Bobby cordially on the side, and went out.
The news of his advent and fragments of his story spread so quickly through
the barracks that mess after mess swarmed down from the upper moors and out
into the roadway to see Bobby. Private McLean stood in the door, smoking a
cutty pipe, and grinning with pride in the merry little ruffian of a terrier,
who met the friendly advances of the soldiers more than half-way. Bobby's
guardian would have liked very well to have sat before the canteen in the sun
and gossiped about his small charge. However, in the sergeant's
sleeping-quarters above the mess-room, he had the little dog all to himself,
and Bobby had the liveliest interest in the boxes and pots, brushes and
sponges, and in the processes of polishing, burnishing, and pipe-claying a
soldier's boots and buttons and belts. As he worked at his valeting, the man
kept time with his foot to rude ballads that he sang in such a hissing Celtic
that Bobby barked, scandalized by a dialect that had been music in the ears of
his ancestors. At that Private McLean danced a Highland fling for him, and wee
Bobby came near bursting with excitement. When the sergeant came up to make a
magnificent toilet for tea and for the evening in town, the soldier expressed
himself with enthusiasm.
"He iss a deffle of a dog, sir!"
He was thought to be a "deffle of a dog" in the mess, where the non-com
officers had tea at small writing and card tables. They talked and laughed
very fast and loud, tried Bobby out on all the pretty tricks he knew, and
taught him to speak and to jump for a lump of sugar balanced on his nose. They
did not fondle him, and this rough, masculine style of pampering and petting
was very much to his liking. It was a proud thing, too, for a little dog, to
walk out with the sergeant's shining boots and twirled walkingstick, and be
introduced into one strange place after another all around the Castle.
From tea to tattoo was playtime for the garrison. Many smartly dressed
soldiers, with passes earned by good behavior, went out to find amusement in
the city. Visitors, some of them tourists from America, made the rounds under
the guidance of old soldiers. The sergeant followed such a group of
sight-seers through a postern behind the armory and out onto the cliff. There
he lounged under a fir-tree above St. Margaret's Well and smoked a dandified
cigar, while Bobby explored the promenade and scraped acquaintance with the
On the northern and southern sides the Castle wall rose from the very edge of
sheer precipices. Except for loopholes there were no openings. But on the west
there was a grassy terrace without the wall, and below that the cliff fell
away a little less steeply. The declivity was clothed sparsely with hazel
shrubs, thorns, whins and thistles; and now and then a stunted fir or rowan
tree or a group of white-stemmed birks was stoutly rooted on a shelving ledge.
Had any one, the visitors asked, ever escaped down this wild crag?
Yes, Queen Margaret's children, the guide answered. Their father dead, in
battle, their saintly mother dead in the sanctuary of her tiny chapel, the
enemy battering at the gate, soldiers had lowered the royal lady's body in a
basket, and got the orphaned children down, in safety and away, in a fog, over
Queen's Ferry to Dunfirmline in the Kingdom of Fife. It was true that a false
step or a slip of the foot would have dashed them to pieces on the rocks
below. A gentleman of the party scouted the legend. Only a fox or an Alpine
chamois could make that perilous descent.
With his head cocked alertly, Bobby had stood listening. Hearing this vague
talk of going down, he may have thought these people meant to go, for he
quietly dropped over the edge and went, head over heels, ten feet down, and
landed in a clump of hazel. A lady screamed. Bobby righted himself and barked
cheerful reassurance. The sergeant sprang to his feet and ordered him to come
Now, the sergeant was pleasant company, to be sure; but he was not a person
who had to be obeyed, so Bobby barked again, wagged his crested tail, and
dropped lower. The people who shuddered on the brink could see that the little
dog was going cautiously enough; and presently he looked doubtfully over a
sheer fall of twenty feet, turned and scrambled back to the promenade. He was
cried and exclaimed over by the hysterical ladies, and scolded for a bittie
fule by the sergeant. To this Bobby returned ostentatious yawns of boredom and
nonchalant lollings, for it seemed a small matter to be so fashed about. At
that a gentleman remarked, testily, to hide his own agitation, that dogs
really had very little sense. The sergeant ordered Bobby to precede him
through the postern, and the little dog complied amiably.
All the afternoon bugles had been blowing. For each signal there was a
different note, and at each uniformed men appeared and hurried to new points.
Now, near sunset, there was the fanfare for officers' orders for the next day.
The sergeant put Bobby into Queen Margaret's Chapel, bade him remain there,
and went down to the Palace Yard. The chapel on the summit was a convenient
place for picking the little dog up on his way to the officers' mess. Then he
meant to have his own supper cozily at Mr. Traill's and to negotiate for
A dozen people would have crowded this ancient oratory, but, small as it was,
it was fitted with a chancel rail and a font for baptizing the babies born in
the Castle. Through the window above the altar, where the sainted Queen was
pictured in stained glass, the sunlight streamed and laid another jeweled
image on the stone floor. Then the colors faded, until the holy place became
an austere cell. The sun had dropped behind the western Highlands.
Bobby thought it quite time to go home. By day he often went far afield,
seeking distraction, but at sunset he yearned for the grave in Greyfriars. The
steps up which he had come lay in plain view from the doorway of the chapel.
Bobby dropped down the stairs, and turned into the main roadway of the Castle.
At the first arch that spanned it a red-coated guard paced on the other side
of a closed gate. It would not be locked until tattoo, at nine thirty, but,
without a pass, no one could go in or out. Bobby sprang on the bars and
barked, as much as to say: "Come awa', man, I hae to get oot."
The guard stopped, presented arms to this small, peremptory terrier, and
inquired facetiously if he had a pass. Bobby bristled and yelped indignantly.
The soldier grinned with amusement. Sentinel duty was lonesome business, and
any diversion a relief. In a guardhouse asleep when Bobby came into the
Castle, he had not seen the little dog before and knew nothing about him. He
might be the property of one of the regiment ladies. Without orders he dared
not let Bobby out. A furious and futile onslaught on the gate he met with a
jocose feint of his bayonet. Tiring of the play, presently, the soldier turned
his back and paced to the end of his beat.
Bobby stopped barking in sheer astonishment. He gazed after the stiff,
retreating back, in frightened disbelief that he was not to be let out. He
attacked the stone under the barrier, but quickly discovered its unyielding
nature. Then he howled until the sentinel came back, but when the man went by
without looking at him he uttered a whimpering cry and fled upward. The
roadway was dark and the dusk was gathering on the citadel when Bobby dashed
across the summit and down into the brightly lighted square of the Palace
The gas-lamps were being lighted on the bridge, and Mr. Traill was getting
into his streetcoat for his call on Mr. Brown when Tammy put his head in at
the door of the restaurant. The crippled laddie had a warm, uplifted look, for
Love had touched the sordid things of life, and a miracle had bloomed for the
tenement dwellers around Greyfriars.
"Maister Traill, Mrs. Brown says wull ye please send Bobby hame. Her
gude-mon's frettin' for 'im; an' syne, a' the folk aroond the kirkyaird hae
come to the gate to see the bittie dog's braw collar. They wullna believe the
Laird Provost gied it to 'im for a chairm gin they dinna see it wi' their gin
"Why, mannie, Bobby's no' here. He must be in the kirkyard."
"Nae, he isna. I ca'ed, an' Ailie keeked in ilka place amang the stanes."
They stared at each other, the landlord serious, the laddie's lip trembling.
Mr. Traill had not returned from his numerous errands about the city until the
middle of the afternoon. He thought, of course, that Bobby had been in for his
dinner, as usual, and had returned to the kirkyard. It appeared, now, that no
one about the diningrooms had seen the little dog. Everybody had thought that
Mr. Traill had taken Bobby with him. He hurried down to the gate to find
Mistress Jeanie at the wicket, and a crowd of tenement women and children in
the alcove and massed down Candlemakers Row. Alarm spread like a contagion.
In eight years and more Bobby had not been outside the kirkyard gate after the
sunset bugle. Mrs. Brown turned pale.
"Dinna say the bittie dog's lost, Maister Traill. It wad gang to the heart o'
"Havers, woman, he's no' lost." Mr. Traill spoke stoutly enough. "Just go up
to the lodge and tell Mr. Brown I'm--weel, I'll just attend to that sma'
matter my ainsel'." With that he took a gay face and a set-up air into the
lodge to meet Mr. Brown's glowering eye.
"Whaur's the dog, man? I've been deaved aboot 'im a' the day, but I haena seen
the sonsie rascal nor the braw collar the Laird Provost gied 'im. An' syne,
wi' the folk comin' to spier for 'im an' swarmin' ower the kirkyaird, ye'd
think a warlock was aboot. Bobby isna your dog--"
"Haud yoursel', man. Bobby's a famous dog, with the freedom of Edinburgh given
to him, and naething will do but Glenormiston must show him to a company o'
grand folk at his bit country place. He's sending in a cart by a groom, and
I'm to tak' Bobby out and fetch him hame after a braw dinner on gowd plate.
The bairns meant weel, but they could no' give Bobby a washing fit for a
veesit with the nobeelity. I had to tak' him to a barber for a shampoo."
Mr. Brown roared with laughter. "Man, ye hae mair fule notions i' yer heid.
Ye'll hae to pay a shullin' or twa to a barber, an' Bobby'll be sae set up
there'll be nae leevin' wi' 'im. Sit ye doon an' tell me aboot the collar,
"I can no' stop now to wag my tongue. Here's the gude-wife. I'll just help her
get you awa' to your bed."
It was dark when he returned to the gate, and the Castle wore its luminous
crown. The lights from the street lamps flickered on the up-turned, anxious
faces. Some of the children had begun to weep. Women offered loud suggestions.
There were surmises that Bobby had been run over by a cart in the street, and
angry conjectures that he had been stolen. Then Ailie wailed:
"Oh, Maister Traill, the bittie dog's deid!"
"Havers, lassie! I'm ashamed o' ye for a fulish bairn. Bobby's no' deid. Nae
doot he's amang the stanes i' the kirkyaird. He's aye scramblin' aboot for
vermin an' pussies, an' may hae hurt himsel', an' ye a' ken the bonny wee
wadna cry oot i' the kirkyaird. Noo, get to wark, an' dinna stand there
greetin' an' waggin' yer tongues. The mithers an' bairns maun juist gang hame
an' stap their havers, an' licht a' the candles an' cruisey lamps i' their
hames, an' set them i' the windows aboon the kirkyaird. Greyfriars is murky by
the ordinar', an' ye couldna find a coo there wi'oot the lichts."
The crowd suddenly melted away, so eager were they all to have a hand in
helping to find the community pet. Then Mr. Traill turned to the boys.
"Hoo mony o' ye laddies hae the bull's-eye lanterns?"
Ah! not many in the old buildings around the kirkyard. These japanned tin aids
to dark adventures on the golf links on autumn nights cost a sixpence and
consumed candles. Geordie Ross and Sandy McGregor, coming up arm in arm, knew
of other students and clerks who still had these cherished toys of boyhood.
With these heroes in the lead a score or more of laddies swarmed into the
The tenements were lighted up as they had not been since nobles held routs and
balls there. Enough candles and oil were going up in smoke to pay for wee
Bobby's license all over again, and enough love shone in pallid little faces
that peered into the dusk to light the darkest corner in the heart of the
world. Rays from the bull's-eyes were thrown into every nook and cranny. Very
small laddies insinuated themselves into the narrowest places. They climbed
upon high vaults and let themselves down in last year's burdocks and tangled
vines. It was all done in silence, only Mr. Traill speaking at all. He went
everywhere with the searchers, and called:
"Whaur are ye, Bobby? Come awa' oot, laddie!"
But no gleaming ghost of a tousled dog was conjured by the voice of affection.
The tiniest scratching or lowest moaning could have been heard, for the warm
spring evening was very still, and there were, as yet, few leaves to rustle.
Sleepy birds complained at being disturbed on their perches, and rodents could
be heard scampering along their runways. The entire kirkyard was explored,
then the interior of the two kirks. Mr. Traill went up to the lodge for the
keys, saying, optimistically, that a sexton might unwittingly have locked
Bobby in. Young men with lanterns went through the courts of the tenements,
around the Grassmarket, and under the arches of the bridge. Laddies dropped
from the wall and hunted over Heriot's Hospital grounds to Lauriston market.
Tammy, poignantly conscious of being of no practical use, sat on Auld Jock's
grave, firm in the conviction that Bobby would return to that spot his ainsel'
And Ailie, being only a maid, whose portion it was to wait and weep, lay
across the window-sill, on the pediment of the tomb, a limp little figure of
Mr. Traill's heart was full of misgiving. Nothing but death or stone walls
could keep that little creature from this beloved grave. But, in thinking of
stone walls, he never once thought of the Castle. Away over to the east, in
Broughton market, when the garrison marched away and at Lauriston when they
returned, Mr. Traill did not know that the soldiers had been out of the city.
Busy in the lodge Mistress Jeanie had not seen them go by the kirkyard, and no
one else, except Mr. Brown, knew the fascination that military uniforms,
marching and music had for wee Bobby. A fog began to drift in from the sea.
Suddenly the grass was sheeted and the tombs blurred. A curtain of gauze
seemed to be hung before the lighted tenements. The Castle head vanished, and
the sounds of the drum and bugle of the tattoo came down muffled, as if
through layers of wool. The lights of the bull's-eyes were ruddy discs that
cast no rays. Then these were smeared out to phosphorescent glows, like the
"spunkies" that everybody in Scotland knew came out to dance in old kirkyards.
It was no' canny. In the smother of the fog some of the little boys were lost,
and cried out. Mr. Traill got them up to the gate and sent them home in bands,
under the escort of the students. Mistress Jeanie was out by the wicket. Mr.
Brown was asleep, and she "couldna thole it to sit there snug." When a
fog-horn moaned from the Firth she broke into sobbing. Mr. Traill comforted
her as best he could by telling her a dozen plans for the morning. By feeling
along the wall he got her to the lodge, and himself up to his cozy
For the first time since Queen Mary the gate of the historic garden of the
Greyfriars was left on the latch. And it was so that a little dog, coming home
in the night might not be shut out.
It was more than two hours after he left Bobby in Queen Margaret's Chapel that
the sergeant turned into the officers' mess-room and tried to get an orderly
to take a message to the captain who had noticed the little dog in the
barracks. He wished to report that Bobby could not be found, and to be excused
to continue the search.
He had to wait by the door while the toast to her Majesty was proposed and the
band in the screened gallery broke into "God Save the Queen"; and when the
music stopped the bandmaster came in for the usual compliments.
The evening was so warm and still, although it was only mid-April, that a
glass-paneled door, opening on the terrace, was set ajar for air. In the
confusion of movement and talk no one noticed a little black mop of a muzzle
that was poked through the aperture. From the outer darkness Bobby looked in
on the score or more of men doubtfully, ready for instant disappearance on the
slightest alarm. Desperate was the emergency, forlorn the hope that had
brought him there. At every turn his efforts to escape from the Castle had
been baffled. He had been imprisoned by drummer boys and young recruits in the
gymnasium, detained in the hospital, captured in the canteen.
Bobby went through all his pretty tricks for the lads, and then begged to be
let go. Laughed at, romped with, dragged back, thrown into the swimming-pool,
expected to play and perform for them, he rebelled at last. He scarred the
door with his claws, and he howled so dismally that, hearing an orderly
corporal coming, they turned him out in a rough haste that terrified him. In
the old Banqueting Hall on the Palace Yard, that was used as a hospital and
dispensary, he went through that travesty of joy again, in hope of the reward.
Sharply rebuked and put out of the hospital, at last, because of his
destructive clawing and mournful howling, Bobby dashed across the Palace Yard
and into a crowd of good-humored soldiers who lounged in the canteen. Rising
on his hind legs to beg for attention and indulgence, he was taken unaware
from behind by an admiring soldier who wanted to romp with him. Quite
desperate by that time, he snapped at the hand of his captor and sprang away
into the first dark opening. Frightened by the man's cry of pain, and by the
calls and scuffling search for him without, he slunk to the farthest corner of
a dungeon of the Middle Ages, under the Royal Lodging.
When the hunt for him ceased, Bobby slipped out of hiding and made his way
around the sickle-shaped ledge of rock, and under the guns of the half-moon
battery, to the outer gate. Only a cat, a fox, or a low, weasel-like dog could
have done it. There were many details that would have enabled the observant
little creature to recognize this barrier as the place where he had come in.
Certainly he attacked it with fury, and on the guards he lavished every art of
appeal that he possessed. But there he was bantered, and a feint was made of
shutting him up in the guard-house as a disorderly person. With a heart-broken
cry he escaped his tormentors, and made his way back, under the guns, to the
His confidence in the good intentions of men shaken, Bobby took to furtive
ways. Avoiding lighted buildings and voices, he sped from shadow to shadow and
explored the walls of solid masonry. Again and again he returned to the
postern behind the armory, but the small back gate that gave to the cliff was
not opened. Once he scrambled up to a loophole in the fortifications and
looked abroad at the scattered lights of the city set in the void of night.
But there, indeed, his stout heart failed him.
It was not long before Bobby discovered that he was being pursued. A number of
soldiers and drummer boys were out hunting for him, contritely enough, when
the situation was explained by the angry sergeant. Wherever he went voices and
footsteps followed. Had the sergeant gone alone and called in familiar speech,
"Come awa' oot, Bobby!" he would probably have run to the man. But there were
so many calls--in English, in Celtic, and in various dialects of the
Lowlands--that the little dog dared not trust them. From place to place he was
driven by fear, and when the calling stopped and the footsteps no longer
followed, he lay for a time where he could watch the postern. A moment after
he gave up the vigil there the little back gate was opened.
Desperation led him to take another chance with men. Slipping into the shadow
of the old Governor's House, the headquarters of commissioned officers, on the
terrace above the barracks, he lay near the open door to the mess-room,
listening and watching.
The pretty ceremony of toasting the bandmaster brought all the company about
the table again, and the polite pause in the conversation, on his exit, gave
an opportunity for the captain to speak of Bobby before the sergeant could get
his message delivered.
"Gentlemen, your indulgence for a moment, to drink another toast to a little
dog that is said to have slept on his master's grave in Greyfriars churchyard
for more than eight years. Sergeant Scott, of the Royal Engineers, vouches for
the story and will present the hero."
The sergeant came forward then with the word that Bobby could not be found. He
was somewhere in the Castle, and had made persistent and frantic efforts to
get out. Prevented at every turn, and forcibly held in various places by
well-meaning but blundering soldiers, he had been frightened into hiding.
Bobby heard every word, and he must have understood that he himself was under
discussion. Alternately hopeful and apprehensive, he scanned each face in the
room that came within range of his vision, until one arrested and drew him.
Such faces, full of understanding, love and compassion for dumb animals, are
to be found among men, women and children, in any company and in every corner
of the world. Now, with the dog's instinct for the dog-lover, Bobby made his
way about the room unnoticed, and set his short, shagged paws up on this man's
"Bless my soul, gentlemen, here's the little dog now, and a beautiful specimen
of the drop-eared Skye he is. Why didn't you say that the ' bittie' dog was of
the Highland breed, Sergeant? You may well believe any extravagant tale you
may hear of the fidelity and affection of the Skye terrier."
And with that wee Bobby was set upon the polished table, his own silver image
glimmering among the reflections of candles and old plate. He kept close under
the hand of his protector, but waiting for the moment favorable to his appeal.
The company crowded around with eager interest, while the man of expert
knowledge and love of dogs talked about Bobby.
"You see he's a well-knit little rascal, long and low, hardy and strong. His
ancestors were bred for bolting foxes and wildcats among the rocky headlands
of the subarctic islands. The intelligence, courage and devotion of dogs of
this breed can scarcely be overstated. There is some far away crossing here
that gives this one a greater beauty and grace and more engaging manners,
making him a 'sport' among rough farm dogs--but look at the length and
strength of the muzzle. He's as determined as the deil. You would have to
break his neck before you could break his purpose. For love of his master he
would starve, or he would leap to his death without an instant's hesitation."
All this time the man had been stroking Bobby's head and neck. Now, feeling
the collar under the thatch, he slipped it out and brought the brass plate up
to the light.
"Propose your toast to Greyfriars Bobby, Captain. His story is vouched for by
no less a person than the Lord Provost. The 'bittie' dog seems to have won a
sort of canine Victoria Cross."
The toast was drunk standing, and, a cheer given. The company pressed close to
examine the collar and to shake Bobby's lifted paw. Then, thinking the moment
had come, Bobby rose in the begging attitude, prostrated himself before them,
and uttered a pleading cry. His new friend assured him that he would be taken
"Bide a wee, Bobby. Before he goes I want you all to see his beautiful eyes.
In most breeds of dogs with the veil you will find the hairs of the face
discolored by tears, but the Skye terrier's are not, and his eyes are living
jewels, as sunny a brown as cairngorms in pebble brooches, but soft and deep
and with an almost human intelligence."
For the third time that day Bobby's veil was pushed back. One shocked look by
this lover of dogs, and it was dropped. "Get him back to that grave, man, or
he's like to die. His eyes are just two cairngorms of grief."
In the hush that fell upon the company the senior officer spoke sharply: "Take
him down at once, Sergeant. The whole affair is most unfortunate, and you will
please tender my apologies at the churchyard and the restaurant, as well as
your own, and I will see the Lord Provost."
The military salute was given to Bobby when he leaped from the table at the
sergeant's call: "Come awa', Bobby. I'll tak' ye to Auld Jock i' the kirkyaird
He stepped out onto the lawn to wait for his pass. Bobby stood at his feet,
quivering with impatience to be off, but trusting in the man's given word. The
upper air was clear, and the sky studded with stars. Twenty minutes before the
May Light, that guided the ships into the Firth, could be seen far out on the
edge of the ocean, and in every direction the lamps of the city seemed to fall
away in a shower of sparks, as from a burst meteor. But now, while the stars
above were as numerous and as brilliant as before, the lights below had
vanished. As the sergeant looked, the highest ones expired in the rising fog.
The Island Rock appeared to be sinking in a waveless sea of milk.
A startled exclamation from the sergeant brought other men out on the terrace
to see it. The senior officer withheld the pass in his hand, and scouted the
idea of the sergeant's going down into the city. As the drum began to beat the
tattoo and the bugle to rise on a crescendo of lovely notes, soldiers swarmed
toward the barracks. Those who had been out in the town came running up the
roadway into the Castle, talking loudly of adventures they had had in the fog.
The sergeant looked down at anxious Bobby, who stood agitated and straining as
at a leash, and said that he preferred to go.
"Impossible! A foolish risk, Sergeant, that I am unwilling you should take.
Edinburgh is too full of pitfalls for a man to be going about on such a night.
Our guests will sleep in the Castle, and it will be safer for the little dog
to remain until morning."
Bobby did not quite understand this good English, but the excited talk and the
delay made him uneasy. He whimpered piteously. He lay across the sergeant's
feet, and through his boots the man could feel the little creature's heart
beat. Then he rose and uttered his pleading cry. The sergeant stooped and
patted the shaggy head consolingly, and tried to explain matters.
"Be a gude doggie noo. Dinna fash yersel' aboot what canna be helped. I canna
tak' ye to the kirkyaird the nicht."
"I'll take charge of Bobby, Sergeant." The dog-loving guest ran out hastily,
but, with a wild cry of reproach and despair, Bobby was gone.
The group of soldiers who had been out on the cliff were standing in the
postern a moment to look down at the opaque flood that was rising around the
rock. They felt some flying thing sweep over their feet and caught a silvery
flash of it across the promenade. The sergeant cried to them to stop the dog,
and he and the guest were out in time to see Bobby go over the precipice.
For a time the little dog lay in a clump of hazel above the fog, between two
terrors. He could see the men and the lights moving along the top of the
cliff, and he could hear the calls. Some one caught a glimpse of him, and the
sergeant lay down on the edge of the precipice and talked to him, saying every
kind and foolish thing he could think of to persuade Bobby to come back. Then
a drummer boy was tied to a rope and let down to the ledge to fetch him up.
But at that, without any sound at all, Bobby dropped out of sight.
Through the smother came the loud moaning of fog-horns in the Firth. Although
nothing could be seen, and sounds were muffled as if the ears of the world
were stuffed with wool, odors were held captive and mingled in confusion.
There was nothing to guide a little dog's nose, everything to make him
distrust his most reliable sense. The smell of every plant on the crag was
there; the odors of leather, of paint, of wood, of iron, from the crafts shops
at the base. Smoke from chimneys in the valley was mixed with the strong scent
of horses, hay and grain from the street of King's Stables. There was the
smell of furry rodents, of nesting birds, of gushing springs, of the earth
itself, and something more ancient still, as of burned-out fires in the Huge
mass of trap-rock.
Everything warned Bobby to lie still in safety until morning and the world was
restored to its normal aspects. But ah! in the highest type of man and dog,
self-sacrifice, and not self-preservation, is the first law. A deserted grave
cried to him across the void, the anguish of protecting love urged him on to
take perilous chances. Falling upon a narrow shelf of rock, he had bounded off
and into a thicket of thorns. Bruised and shaken and bewildered, he lay there
for a time and tried to get his bearings.
Bobby knew only that the way was downward. He put out a paw and felt for the
edge of the shelf. A thorn bush rooted below tickled his nose. He dropped into
that and scrambled out again. Loose earth broke under his struggles and
carried him swiftly down to a new level. He slipped in the wet moss of a
spring before he heard the tinkle of the water, lost his foothold, and fell
against a sharp point of rock. The shadowy spire of a fir-tree looming in a
parting of the vapor for an instant, Bobby leaped to the ledge upon which it
Foot by foot he went down, with no guidance at all. It is the nature of such
long, low, earth dogs to go by leaps and bounds like foxes, calculating
distances nicely when they can see, and tearing across the roughest country
with the speed of the wild animals they hunt. And where the way is very steep
they can scramble up or down any declivity that is at a lesser angle than the
perpendicular. Head first they go downward, setting the fore paws forward, the
claws clutching around projections and in fissures, the weight hung from the
stout hindquarters, the body flattened on the earth.
Thus Bobby crept down steep descents in safety, but his claws were broken in
crevices and his feet were torn and pierced by splinters of rock and thorns.
Once he went some distance into a cave and had to back up and out again. And
then a promising slope shelving under suddenly, where he could not retreat, he
leaped, turned over and over in the air, and fell stunned. His heart filled
with fear of the unseen before him, the little dog lay for a long time in a
clump of whins. He may even have dozed and dreamed, to be awakened with starts
by his misery of longing, and once by the far-away barking of a dog. It came
up deadened, as if from fathoms below. He stood up and listened, but the sound
was not repeated. His lacerated feet burned and throbbed; his bruised muscles
had begun to stiffen, so that every movement was a pain.
In these lower levels there was more smoke, that smeared out and thickened the
mist. Suddenly a breath of air parted the fog as if it were a torn curtain.
Like a shot Bobby went down the crag, leaping from rock to rock, scrambling
under thorns and hazel shrubs, dropping over precipitous ledges, until he
looked down a sheer fall on which not even a knot of grass could find a
foothold. He took the leap instantly, and his thick fleece saved him from
broken bones; but when he tried to get up again his body was racked with pain
and his hind legs refused to serve him.
Turning swiftly, he snarled and bit, at them in angry disbelief that his good
little legs should play false with his stout heart. Then he quite forgot his
pain, for there was the sharp ring of iron on an anvil and the dull glow of a
forge fire, where a smith was toiling in the early hours of the morning. A
clever and resourceful little dog, Bobby made shift to do without legs.
Turning on his side, he rolled down the last slope of Castle Rock. Crawling
between two buildings and dropping from the terrace on which they stood, he
fell into a little street at the west end and above the Grassmarket.
Here the odors were all of the stables. He knew the way, and that it was still
downward. The distance he had to go was a matter of a quarter of a mile, or
less, and the greater part of it was on the level, through the sunken valley
of the Grassmarket. But Bobby had literally to drag himself now; and he had
still to pull him self up by his fore paws over the wet and greasy
cobblestones of Candlemakers Row. Had not the great leaves of the gate to the
kirkyard been left on the latch, he would have had to lie there in the alcove,
with his nose under the bars, until morning. But the gate gave way to his
push, and so, he dragged himself through it and around the kirk, and stretched
himself on Auld Jock's grave.
It was the birds that found him there in the misty dawn. They were used to
seeing Bobby scampering about, for the little watchman was awake and busy as
early as the feathered dwellers in the kirkyard. But, in what looked to be a
wet and furry door-mat left out overnight on the grass, they did not know him
at all. The throstles and skylarks were shy of it, thinking it might be alive.
The wrens fluffed themselves, scolded it, and told it to get up. The blue
titmice flew over it in a flock again and again, with much sweet gossiping,
but they did not venture nearer. A redbreast lighted on the rose bush that
marked Auld Jock's grave, cocked its head knowingly, and warbled a little
song, as much as to say: "If it's alive that will wake it up."
As Bobby did not stir, the robin fluttered down, studied him from all sides,
made polite inquiries that were not answered, and concluded that it would be
quite safe to take a silver hair for nest lining. Then, startled by the animal
warmth or by a faint, breathing movement, it dropped the shining trophy and
flew away in a shrill panic. At that, all the birds set up such an excited
crying that they waked Tammy.
From the rude loophole of a window that projected from the old Cunzie Neuk,
the crippled laddie could see only the shadowy tombs and the long gray wall of
the two kirks, through the sunny haze. But he dropped his crutches over, and
climbed out onto the vault. Never before had Bobby failed to hear that
well-known tap-tap-tapping on the graveled path, nor failed to trot down to
meet it with friskings of welcome. But now he lay very still, even when a pair
of frail arms tried to lift his dead weight to a heaving breast, and Tammy's
cry of woe rang through the kirkyard. In a moment Ailie and Mistress Jeanie
were in the wet grass beside them, half a hundred casements flew open, and the
piping voices of tenement bairns cried-down:
"Did the bittie doggie come hame?"
Oh yes, the bittie doggie had come hame, indeed, but down such perilous
heights as none of them dreamed; and now in what a woeful plight!
Some murmur of the excitement reached an open dormer of the Temple tenements,
where Geordie Ross had slept with one ear of the born doctor open. Snatching
up a case of first aids to the injured, he ran down the twisting stairs to the
Grassmarket, up to the gate, and around the kirk, to find a huddled group of
women and children weeping over a limp little bundle of a senseless dog. He
thrust a bottle of hartshorn under the black muzzle, and with a start and a
moan Bobby came back to consciousness.
"Lay him down flat and stop your havers," ordered the business-like, embryo
medicine man. "Bobby's no' dead. Laddie, you're a braw soldier for holding
your ain feelings, so just hold the wee dog's head." Then, in the reassuring
dialect: "Hoots, Bobby, open the bit mou' noo, an' tak' the medicine like a
mannie!" Down the tiny red cavern of a throat Geordie poured a dose that
galvanized the small creature into life.
"Noo, then, loup, ye bonny rascal!"
Bobby did his best to jump at Geordie's bidding. He was so glad to be at home
and to see all these familiar faces of love that he lifted himself on his fore
paws, and his happy heart almost put the power to loup into his hind legs. But
when he tried to stand up he cried out with the pains and sank down again,
with an apologetic and shamefaced look that was worthy of Auld Jock himself.
Geordie sobered on the instant.
"Weel, now, he's been hurt. We'll just have to see what ails the sonsie
doggie." He ran his hand down the parting in the thatch to discover if the
spine had been injured. When he suddenly pinched the ball of a hind toe Bobby
promptly resented it by jerking his head around and looking at him
reproachfully. The bairns were indignant, too, but Geordie grinned cheerfully
and said: "He's no' paralyzed, at ony rate." He turned as footsteps were heard
coming hastily around the kirk.
"A gude morning to you, Mr. Traill. Bobby may have been run over by a cart and
got internal injuries, but I'm thinking it's just sprains and bruises from a
bad fall. He was in a state of collapse, and his claws are as broken and his
toes as torn as if he had come down Castle Rock."
This was such an extravagant surmise that even the anxious landlord smiled.
Then he said, drily:
"You're a braw laddie, Geordie, and gudehearted, but you're no' a doctor yet,
and, with your leave, I'll have my ain medical man tak' a look at Bobby."
"Ay, I would," Geordie agreed, cordially. "It's worth four shullings to have
your mind at ease, man. I'll just go up to the lodge and get a warm bath
ready, to tak' the stiffness out of his muscles, and brew a tea from an herb
that wee wild creatures know all about and aye hunt for when they're ailing."
Geordie went away gaily, to take disorder and evil smells into Mistress
Jeanie's shining kitchen.
No sooner had the medical student gone up to the lodge, and the children had
been persuaded to go home to watch the proceedings anxiously from the
amphitheater of the tenement windows, than the kirkyard gate was slammed back
noisily by a man in a hurry. It was the sergeant who, in the splendor of full
uniform, dropped in the wet grass beside Bobby.
"Lush! The sma' dog got hame, an' is still leevin'. Noo, God forgie me--"
"Eh, man, what had you to do with Bobby's misadventure?"
Mr. Traill fixed an accusing eye on the soldier, remembering suddenly his
laughing threat to kidnap Bobby. The story came out in a flood of remorseful
words, from Bobby's following of the troops so gaily into the Castle to his
desperate escape over the precipice.
"Noo," he said, humbly, "gin it wad be ony satisfaction to ye, I'll gang up to
the Castle an' put on fatigue dress, no' to disgrace the unifarm o' her
Maijesty, an' let ye tak' me oot on the Burghmuir an' gie me a gude lickin'."
Mr. Traill shrugged his shoulders. "Naething would satisfy me, man, but to get
behind you and kick you over the Firth into the Kingdom of Fife."
He turned an angry back on the sergeant and helped Geordie lift Bobby onto
Mrs. Brown's braided hearth-rug and carry the improvised litter up to the
lodge. In the kitchen the little dog was lowered into a hot bath, dried, and
rubbed with liniments under his fleece. After his lacerated feet had been
cleaned and dressed with healing ointments and tied up, Bobby was wrapped in
Mistress Jeanie's best flannel petticoat and laid on the hearth-rug, a very
comfortable wee dog, who enjoyed his breakfast of broth and porridge.
Mr. Brown, hearing the commotion and perishing of curiosity, demanded. that
some one should come and help him out of bed. As no attention was paid to him
he managed to get up himself and to hobble out to the kitchen just as Mr.
Traill's ain medical man came in. Bobby's spine was examined again, the tail
and toes nipped, the heart tested, and all the soft parts of his body pressed
and punched, in spite of the little dog's vigorous objections to these
"Except for sprains and bruises the wee dog is all right. Came down Castle
Crag in the fog, did he? He's a clever and plucky little chap, indeed, and
deserving of a hero medal to hang on the Lord Provost's collar. You've done
very well, Mr. Ross. Just take as good care of him for a week or so and he
could do the gallant deed again."
Mr. Brown listened to the story of Bobby's adventures with a mingled look of
disgust at the foolishness of men, pride in Bobby's prowess, and resentment at
having been left out of the drama of the night before. "It's maist michty,
noo, Maister Traill, that ye wad tak' the leeberty o' leein' to me," he
"It was a gude lee or a bad nicht for an ill man. Geordie will tell you that a
mind at ease is worth four shullings, and I'm charging you naething. Eh, man,
you're deeficult to please." As he went out into the kirkyard Mr. Traill
stopped to reflect on a strange thing: " 'You've done very well, Mr. Ross.'
Weel, weel, how the laddies do grow up! But I'm no' going to admit it to
Another thought, over which he chuckled, sent him off to find the sergeant.
The soldier was tramping gloomily about in the wet, to the demoralization of
his beautiful boots.
"Man, since a stormy nicht eight years ago last November I've aye been looking
for a bigger weel meaning fule than my ain sel'. You're the man, so if you'll
just shak' hands we'll say nae more about it."
He did not explain this cryptic remark, but he went on to assure the sorry
soldier that Bobby had got no serious hurt and would soon be as well as ever.
They had turned toward the gate when a stranger with a newspaper in his hand
peered mildly around the kirk and inquired "Do ye ken whaur's the sma' dog,
man?" As Mr. Traill continued to stare at him he explained, patiently: "It's
Greyfriars Bobby, the bittie terrier the Laird Provost gied the collar to. Hae
ye no' seen 'The Scotsman' the day?"
The landlord had not. And there was the story, Bobby's, name heading quite a
quarter of a broad column of fine print, and beginning with: "A very singular
and interesting occurrence was brought to light in the Burgh court by the
hearing of a summons in regard to a dog tax." Bobby was a famous dog, and Mr.
Traill came in for a goodly portion of reflected glory. He threw up his hands
"It's all over the toon, Sergeant." Turning to the stranger, he assured him
that Bobby was not to be seen. "He hurt himsel' coming down Castle Rock in the
nicht, and is in the lodge with the caretaker, wha's fair ill. Hoo do I ken?"
testily. "Weel, man, I'm Mr. Traill."
He saw at once how unwise was that admission, for he had to shake hands with
the cordial stranger. And after dismissing him there was another at the gate
who insisted upon going up to the lodge to see the little hero. Here was a
state of things, indeed, that called upon all the powers of the resourceful
"All the folk in Edinburgh will be coming, and the poor woman be deaved with
their spiering." And then he began to laugh. "Did you ever hear o' sic a thing
as poetic justice, Sergeant? Nae, it's no' the kind you'll get in the courts
of law. Weel, it's poetic justice for a birkie soldier, wha claims the airth
and the fullness thereof, to have to tak' his orders from a sma' shopkeeper.
Go up to the police office in St. Gila now and ask for an officer to stand at
the gate here to answer questions, and to keep the folk awa' from the lodge."
He stood guard himself, and satisfied a score of visitors before the sergeant
came back, and there was another instance of poetic justice, in the
crestfallen Burgh policeman who had been sent with instructions to take his
orders from the delighted landlord.
"Eh, Davie, it's a lang lane that has nae turning. Ye're juist to stand here
a' the day an' say to ilka body wha spiers for the dog: 'Ay, sir, Greyfriars
Bobby's been leevin' i' the kirkyaird aucht years an' mair, an' Maister
Traill's aye fed 'im i' the dining-rooms. Ay, the case was dismissed i' the
Burgh coort. The Laird Provost gied a collar to the bit Skye because there's a
meddlin' fule or twa amang the Burgh police wha'd be takin' 'im up. The
doggie's i' the lodge wi' the caretaker, wha's fair ill, an' he canna be seen
the day. But gang aroond the kirk an' ye can see Auld Jock's grave that he's
aye guarded. There's nae stave to it, but it's neist to the fa'en table-tomb
o' Mistress Jean Grant. A gude day to ye.' Hae ye got a' that, man? Weel,
cheer up. Yell hae to say it nae mair than a thousand times or twa, atween noo
He went away laughing at the penance that was laid upon his foe. The landlord
felt so well satisfied with the world that he took another jaunty crack at the
sergeant: "By richts, man, you ought to go to gaol, but I'll just fine you a
shulling a month for Bobby's natural lifetime, to give the wee soldier a treat
of a steak or a chop once a week."
Hands were struck heartily on the bargain, and the two men parted good
friends. Now, finding Ailie dropping tears in the dish-water, Mr. Traill sent
her flying down to the lodge with instructions to make herself useful to Mrs.
Brown. Then he was himself besieged in his place of business by folk of high
and low degree who were disappointed by their failure to see Bobby in the
kirkyard. Greyfriars Dining-Rooms had more distinguished visitors in a day
than they had had in all the years since Auld Jock died and a little dog fell
there at the landlord's feet "a' but deid wi' hunger."
Not one of all the grand folk who, inquired for Bobby at the kirkyard or at
the restaurant got a glimpse of him that day. But after they were gone the
tenement dwellers came up to the gate again, as they had gathered the evening