Part 4 out of 4
before, and begged that they might just tak' a look at him and his braw
collar. "The bonny bit is the bairns' ain doggie, an' the Laird Provost
himsel' told 'em he wasna to be neglectet," was one mother's plea.
Ah! that was very true. To the grand folk who had come to see him, Bobby was
only a nine-days' wonder. His story had touched the hearts of all orders of
society. For a time strangers would come to see him, and then they would
forget all about him or remember him only fitfully. It was to these poor
people around the kirkyard, themselves forgotten by the more fortunate, that
the little dog must look for his daily meed of affection and companionship.
Mr. Traill spoke to them kindly.
"Bide a wee, noo, an' I'll fetch the doggie doon."
Bobby had slept blissfully nearly all the day, after his exhausting labors and
torturing pains. But with the sunset bugle he fretted to be let out. Ailie had
wept and pleaded, Mrs. Brown had reasoned with him, and Mr. Brown had scolded,
all to the end of persuading him to sleep in "the hoose the nicht." But when
no one was watching him Bobby crawled from his rug and dragged himself to the
door. He rapped the floor with his tail in delight when Mr. Traill came in and
bundled him up on the rug, so he could lie easily, and carried him down to the
For quite twenty minutes these neighbors and friends of Bobby filed by
silently, patted the shaggy little head, looked at the grand plate with
Bobby's and the Lord Provost's names upon it, and believed their own wondering
een. Bobby wagged his tail and lolled his tongue, and now and then he licked
the hand of a baby who had to be lifted by a tall brother to see him. Shy
kisses were dropped on Bobby's head by toddling bairns, and awkward caresses
by rough laddies. Then they all went home quietly, and Mr. Traill carried the
little dog around the kirk.
And there, ah! so belated, Auld Jock's grave bore its tribute of flowers.
Wreaths and nosegays, potted daffodils and primroses and daisies, covered the
sunken mound so that some of them had to be moved to make room for Bobby. He
sniffed and sniffed at them, looked up inquiringly at Mr. Traill; and then
snuggled down contentedly among the blossoms. He did not understand their
being there any more than he understood the collar about which everybody made
such a to-do. The narrow band of leather would disappear under his thatch
again, and would be unnoticed by the casual passer-by; the flowers would fade
and never be so lavishly renewed; but there was another more wonderful gift,
now, that would never fail him.
At nightfall, before the drum and bugle sounded the tattoo to call the
scattered garrison in the Castle, there took place a loving ceremony that was
never afterward omitted as long as Bobby lived. Every child newly come to the
tenements learned it, every weanie lisped it among his first words. Before
going to bed each bairn opened a casement. Sometimes a candle was held up--a
little star of love, glimmering for a moment on the dark; but always there was
a small face peering into the melancholy kirkyard. In midsummer, and at other
seasons if the moon rose full and early and the sky was clear, Bobby could be
seen on the grave. And when he recovered from these hurts he trotted about,
making the circuit below the windows. He could not speak there, because he had
been forbidden, but he could wag his tail and look up to show his
friendliness. And whether the children saw him or not they knew he was always
there after sunset, keeping watch and ward, and "lanely" because his master
had gone away to heaven; and so they called out to him sweetly and clearly:
"A gude nicht to ye, Bobby."
In one thing Mr. Traill had been mistaken: the grand folk did not forget
Bobby. At the end of five years the leal Highlander was not only still
remembered, but he had become a local celebrity.
Had the grave of his haunting been on the Pentlands or in one of the outlying
cemeteries of the city Bobby must have been known to few of his generation,
and to fame not at all. But among churchyards Greyfriars was distinguished.
One of the historic show-places of Edinburgh, and in the very heart of the Old
Town, it was never missed by the most hurried tourist, seldom left unvisited,
from year to year, by the oldest resident. Names on its old tombs had come to
mean nothing to those who read them, except as they recalled memorable records
of love, of inspiration, of courage, of self-sacrifice. And this being so, it
touched the imagination to see, among the marbles that crumbled toward the
dust below, a living embodiment of affection and fidelity. Indeed, it came to
be remarked, as it is remarked to-day, although four decades have gone by,
that no other spot in Greyfriars was so much cared for as the grave of a man
of whom nothing was known except that the life and love of a little dog was
consecrated to his memory.
At almost any hour Bobby might be found there. As he grew older he became less
and less willing to be long absent, and he got much of his exercise by nosing
about among the neighboring thorns. In fair weather he took his frequent naps
on the turf above his master, or he sat on the fallen table-tomb in the sun.
On foul days he watched the grave from under the slab, and to that spot he
returned from every skirmish against the enemy. Visitors stopped to speak to
him. Favored ones were permitted to read the inscription on his collar and to
pat his head. It seemed, therefore, the most natural thing in the world when
the greatest lady in England, beside the Queen, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts,
came all the way from London to see Bobby.
Except that it was the first Monday in June, and Founder's Day at Heriot's
Hospital, it was like any other day of useful work, innocent pleasure, and
dreaming dozes on Auld Jock's grave to wee Bobby. As years go, the shaggy
little Skye was an old dog, but he was not feeble or blind or unhappy. A
terrier, as a rule, does not live as long as more sluggish breeds of dogs,
but, active to the very end, he literally wears himself out tearing around,
and then goes, little soldier, very suddenly, dying gallantly with his boots
In the very early mornings of the northern summer Bobby woke with the birds, a
long time before the reveille was sounded from the Castle. He scampered down
to the circling street of tombs at once, and not until the last prowler had
been dispatched, or frightened into his burrow, did he return for a brief nap
on Auld Jock's grave.
All about him the birds fluttered and hopped and gossiped and foraged,
unafraid. They were used, by this time, to seeing the little dog lying
motionless, his nose on his paws. Often some tidbit of food lay there, brought
for Bobby by a stranger. He had learned that a Scotch bun dropped near him was
a feast that brought feathered visitors about and won their confidence and
cheerful companionship. When he awoke he lay there lolling and blinking,
following the blue rovings of the titmice and listening to the foolish
squabbles of the sparrows and the shrewish scoldings of the wrens. He always
started when a lark sprang at his feet and a cataract of melody tumbled from
But, best of all, Bobby loved a comfortable and friendly robin redbreast--not
the American thrush that is called a robin, but the smaller Old World warbler.
It had its nest of grass and moss and feathers, and many a silver hair shed by
Bobby, low in a near-by thorn bush. In sweet and plaintive talking notes it
told its little dog companion all about the babies that had left the nest and
the new brood that would soon be there. On the morning of that wonderful day
of the Grand Leddy's first coming, Bobby and the redbreast had a pleasant
visit together before the casements began to open and the tenement bairns
called down their morning greeting:
"A gude day to ye, Bobby."
By the time all these courtesies had been returned Tammy came in at the gate
with his college books strapped on his back. The old Cunzic Neuk had been
demolished by Glenormiston, and Tammy, living in better quarters, was studying
to be a teacher at Heriot's. Bobby saw him settled, and then he had to escort
Mr. Brown down from the lodge. The caretaker made his way about stiffly with a
cane and, with the aid of a young helper who exasperated the old gardener by
his cheerful inefficiency, kept the auld kirkyard in beautiful order.
"Eh, ye gude-for-naethin' tyke," he said to Bobby, in transparent pretense of
his uselessness. "Get to wark, or I'll hae a young dog in to gie ye a lift,
an' syne whaur'll ye be?"
Bobby jumped on him in open delight at this, as much as to say: "Ye may be as
dour as ye like, but ilka body kens ye're gude-hearted."
Morning and evening numerous friends passed the gate,. and the wee dog waited
for them on the wicket. Dr. George Ross and Mr. Alexander McGregor shook
Bobby's lifted paw and called him a sonsie rascal. Small merchants, students,
clerks, factory workers, house servants, laborers and vendors, all honest and
useful people, had come up out of these old tenements within Bobby's memory;
and others had gone down, alas! into the Cowgate. But Bobby's tail wagged for
these unfortunates, too, and some of them had no other friend in the world
beside that uncalculating little dog.
When the morning stream of auld acquaintance had gone by, and none forgot,
Bobby went up to the lodge to sit for an hour with Mistress Jeanie. There he
was called "croodlin' doo"--which was altogether absurd--by the fond old
woman. As neat of plumage, and as busy and talkative about small domestic
matters as the robin, Bobby loved to watch the wifie stirring savory messes
over the fire, watering her posies, cleaning the fluttering skylark's cage, or
just sitting by the hearth or in the sunny doorway with him, knitting warm
stockings for her rheumatic gude-mon.
Out in the kirkyard Bobby trotted dutifully at the caretaker's heels. When
visitors were about he did not venture to take a nap in the open unless Mr.
Brown was on guard, and, by long and close companionship with him, the aging
man could often tell what Bobby was dreaming about. At a convulsive movement
and a jerk of his head the caretaker would say to the wifie, if she chanced to
"Leuk at that, noo, wull ye? The sperity bit was takin' thae fou' vermin." And
again, when the muscles of his legs worked rhythmically, "He's rinnin' wi' the
laddies or the braw soldiers on the braes."
Bobby often woke from a dream with a start, looked dazed, and then foolish, at
the vivid imaginings of sleep. But when, in a doze, he half stretched himself
up on his short, shagged fore paws, flattened out, and then awoke and lay so,
very still, for a time, it was Mistress Jeanie who said:
"Preserve us a'! The bonny wee was dreamin' o' his maister's deith, an' noo
he's greetin' sair."
At that she took her little stool and sat on the grave beside him. But Mr.
Brown bit his teeth in his pipe, limped away, and stormed at his daft helper
laddie, who didn't appear to know a violet from a burdock.
Ah! who can doubt that, so deeply were scene and word graven on his memory,
Bobby often lived again the hour of his bereavement, and heard Auld Jock's
Homeless on earth, gude Auld Jock had gone to a place prepared for him. But
his faithful little dog had no home. This sacred spot was merely his tarrying
place, where he waited until such a time as that mysterious door should open
for him, perchance to an equal sky, and he could slip through and find his
On the morning of the day when the Grand Leddy came Bobby watched the holiday
crowd gather on Heriot's Hospital grounds. The mothers and sisters of hundreds
of boys were there, looking on at the great match game of cricket. Bobby
dropped over the wall and scampered about, taking a merry part in the play.
When the pupils' procession was formed, and the long line of grinning and
nudging laddies marched in to service in the chapel and dinner in the hall, he
was set up over the kirkyard wall, hundreds of hands were waved to him, and
voices called back: "Fareweel, Bobby!" Then the time-gun boomed from the
Castle, and the little dog trotted up for his dinner and nap under the settle
and his daily visit with Mr. Traill.
In fair weather, when the last guest had departed and the music bells of St.
Giles had ceased playing, the landlord was fond of standing in his doorway,
bareheaded and in shirt-sleeves and apron, to exchange opinions on politics,
literature and religion, or to tell Bobby's story to what passers-by he could
beguile into talk. At his feet, there, was a fine place for a sociable little
dog to spend an hour. When he was ready to go Bobby set his paws upon Mr.
Traill and waited for the landlord's hand to be laid on his head and the man
to say, in the dialect the little dog best understood: "Bide a wee. Ye're no'
needin' to gang sae sune, laddie!"
At that he dropped, barked politely, wagged his tail, and was off. If Mr.
Traill really wanted to detain Bobby he had only to withhold the magic word
"laddie," that no one else had used toward the little dog since Auld Jock
died. But if the word was too long in coming, Bobby would thrash his tail
about impatiently, look up appealingly, and finally rise and beg and whimper.
"Weel, then, bide wi' me, an' ye'll get it ilka hour o' the day, ye sonsie,
wee, talon' bit! What are ye hangin' aroond for? Eh--weel--gang awa' wi' ye-
-laddie!" The landlord sighed and looked down reproachfully. With a delighted
yelp, and a lick of the lingering hand, Bobby was off.
It was after three o'clock on this day when he returned to the kirkyard. The
caretaker was working at the upper end, and the little dog was lonely. But;
long enough absent from his master, Bobby lay down on the grave, in the
stillness of the mid-afternoon. The robin made a brief call and, as no other
birds were about, hopped upon Bobby's back, perched on his head, and warbled a
little song. It was then that the gate clicked. Dismissing her carriage and
telling the coachman to return at five, Lady Burdett-Coutts entered the
Bobby trotted around the kirk on the chance of meeting a friend. He looked up
intently at the strange lady for a moment, and she stood still and looked down
at him. She was not a beautiful lady, nor very young. Indeed, she was a few
years older than the Queen, and the Queen was a widowed grandmother. But she
had a sweet dignity and warm serenity--an unhurried look, as if she had all
the time in the world for a wee dog; and Bobby was an age-whitened muff of a
plaintive terrier that captured her heart at once. Very certain that this
stranger knew and cared about how he felt, Bobby turned and led her down to
Auld Jock's grave. And when she was seated on the table-tomb he came up to her
and let her look at his collar, and he stood under her caress, although she
spoke to him in fey English, calling him a darling little dog. Then, entirely
contented with her company, he lay down, his eyes fixed upon her and lolling
The sun was on the green and flowery slope of Greyfriars, warming the
weathered tombs and the rear windows of the tenements. The Grand Leddy found a
great deal there to interest her beside Bobby and the robin that chirped and
picked up crumbs between the little dog's paws. Presently the gate was opened
again and' a housemaid from some mansion in George Square came around the
kirk. Trained by Mistress Jeanie, she was a neat and pretty and pleasant-
mannered housemaid, in a black gown and white apron, and with a frilled cap on
her crinkly, gold-brown hair that had had more than "a lick or twa the nicht
"It's juist Ailie," Bobby seemed to say, as he stood a moment with crested
neck and tail. "Ilka body kens Ailie."
The servant lassie, with an hour out, had stopped to speak to Bobby. She had
not meant to stay long, but the lady, who didn't look in the least grand,
began to think friendly things aloud.
"The windows of the tenements are very clean."
"Ay. The bairnies couldna see Bobby gin the windows warna washed." The lassie
was pulling her adored little pet's ears, and Bobby was nuzzling up to her.
"In many of the windows there is a box of flowers, or of kitchen herbs to make
the broth savory."
"It wasna so i' the auld days. It was aye washin's clappin' aboon the stanes.
Noo, mony o' the mithers hang the claes oot at nicht. Ilka thing is changed
sin' I was a wean an' leevin' i' the auld Guildhall, the bairnies haen Bobby
to lo'e, an' no' to be neglectet." She continued the conversation to include
Tammy as he came around the kirk on his tapping crutches.
"Hoo mony years is it, Tammy, sin' Bobby's been leevin' i' the auld kirkyaird?
At Maister Traill's snawy picnic ye war five gangin' on sax." They exchanged
glances in which lay one of the happy memories of sad childhoods.
"Noo I'm nineteen going on twenty. It's near fourteen years syne, Ailie."
Nearly all the burrs had been pulled from Tammy's tongue, but he used a Scotch
word now and then, no' to shame Ailie's less cultivated speech.
"So long?" murmured the Grand Leddy. "Bobby is getting old, very old for a
As if to deny that, Bobby suddenly shot down the slope in answer to a cry of
alarm from a song thrush. Still good for a dash, when he came back he dropped
panting. The lady put her hand on his rippling coat and felt his heart
pounding. Then she looked at his worn down teeth and lifted his veil. Much of
the luster was gone from Bobby's brown eyes, but they were still soft and deep
From the windows children looked down upon the quiet group and, without in the
least knowing why they wanted to be there, too, the tenement bairns began to
drop into the kirkyard. Almost at once it rained--a quick, bright, dashing
shower that sent them all flying and laughing up to the shelter of the portico
to the new kirk. Bobby scampered up, too, and with the bairns in holiday
duddies crowding about her, and the wee dog lolling at her feet, the Grand
Leddy talked fairy stories.
She told them all about a pretty country place near London. It was called
Holly Lodge because its hedges were bright with green leaves and red berries,
even in winter. A lady who had no family at all lived there, and to keep her
company she had all sorts of pets. Peter and Prince were the dearest dogs, and
Cocky was a parrot that could say the most amusing things. Sir Garnet was the
llama goat, or sheep--she didn't know which. There was a fat and lazy old pony
that had long been pensioned off on oats and clover, and--oh yes--the white
donkey must not be forgotten!
"O-o-o-oh! I didna ken there wad be ony white donkeys!" cried a big-eyed
"There cannot be many, and there's a story about how the lady came to have
this one. One day, driving in a poor street, she saw a coster--that is a
London peddler--beating his tired donkey that refused to pull the load. The
lady got out of her carriage, fed the animal some carrots from the cart,
talked kindly to him right into his big, surprised ear, and stroked his nose.
Presently the poor beast felt better and started off cheerfully with the heavy
cart. When many costers learned that it was not only wicked but foolish to
abuse their patient animals, they hunted for a white donkey to give the lady.
They put a collar of flowers about his neck, and brought him up on a platform
before a crowd of people. Everybody laughed, for he was a clumsy and comical
beast to be decorated with roses and daisies. But the lady is proud of him,
and now that pampered donkey has nothing to do but pull her Bath chair about,
when she is at Holly Lodge, and kick up his heels on a clover pasture."
"Are ye kennin' anither tale, Leddy?"
"Oh, a number of them. Prince, the fox terrier, was ill once, and the doctor
who came to see him said his mistress gave him too much to eat. That was very
probable, because that lady likes to see children and animals have too much to
eat. There are dozens and dozens of poor children that the lady knows and
loves. Once they lived in a very dark and dirty and crowded tenement, quite as
bad as some that were torn down in the Cowgate and the Grassmarket."
"It mak's ye fecht ane anither," said one laddie, soberly. "Gin they had a
sonsie doggie like Bobby to lo'e, an' an auld kirkyaird wi' posies an' birdies
to leuk into, they wadna fecht sae muckle."
"I'm very sure of that. Well, the lady built a new tenement with plenty of
room and light and air, and a market so they can get better food more cheaply,
and a large church, that is also a kind of school where big and little people
can learn many things. She gives the children of the neighborhood a Christmas
dinner and a gay tree, and she strips the hedges of Holly Lodge for them, and
then she takes Peter and Prince,and Cocky the parrot, to help along the fun,
and she tells her newest stories. Next Christmas she means to tell the story
of Greyfriars Bobby, and how all his little Scotch friends are better-behaving
and cleaner and happier because they have that wee dog to love."
"Ilka body lo'es Bobby. He wasna ever mistreatet or neglectet," said Ailie,
"Oh--my--dear!, That's the very best part of the story!" The Grand Leddy had a
The rain had ceased and the sun come out, and the children began to be called
away. There was quite a little ceremony of lingering leave-taking with the
lady and with Bobby, and while this was going on Ailie had a "sairious"
confidence for her old playfellow.
"Tammy, as the leddy says, Bobby's gettin' auld. I ken whaur's a snawy
hawthorn aboon the burn in Swanston Dell. The throstles nest there, an' the
blackbirds whustle bonny. It isna so far but the bairnies could march oot wi'
posies." She turned to the lady, who had overheard her. "We gied a promise to
the Laird Provost to gie Bobby a grand funeral. Ye ken he wullna be permittet
to be buried i' the kirkyaird."
"Will he not? I had not thought of that." Her tone was at once hushed and
Then she was down in the grass, brooding over the little dog, and Bobby had
the pathetic look of trying to understand what this emotional talk, that
seemed to concern himself, was about. Tammy and Ailie were down, too.
"Are ye thinkin' Bobby wall be kennin' the deeference?" Ailie's bluebell eyes
were wide at the thought of pain for this little pet.
"I do not know, my dear. But there cannot well be more love in this world than
there is room for in God's heaven."
She was silent all the way to the gate, some thought in her mind already
working toward a gracious deed. At the last she said: "The little dog is fond
of you both. Be with him all you can, for I think his beautiful life is near
its end." After a pause, during which her face was lighted by a smile, as if
from a lovely thought within, she added: "Don't let Bobby die before my return
In a week she was back, and in the meantime letters and telegrams had been
flying, and many wheels set in motion in wee Bobby's affairs. When she
returned to the churchyard, very early one morning, no less a person than the
Lord Provost himself was with her. Five years had passed, but Mr.--no, Sir
William--Chambers, Laird of Glenormiston, for he had been knighted by the
Queen, was still Lord Provost of Edinburgh.
Almost immediately Mr. Traill appeared, by appointment, and was made all but
speechless for once in his loquacious life by the honor of being asked to tell
Bobby's story to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. But not even a tenement child or
a London coster could be ill at ease with the Grand Leddy for very long, and
presently the three were in close conference in the portico. Bobby welcomed
them, and then dozed in the sun and visited with the robin on Auld Jock's
grave. Far from being tongue-tied, the landlord was inspired. What did he not
remember, from the pathetic renunciation, "Bobby isna ma ain dog," down to the
leal Highlander's last, near tragic reminder to men that in the nameless grave
lay his unforgotten master.
He sketched the scene in Haddo's Hole, where the tenement bairns poured out as
pure a gift of love and mercy and self-sacrifice as had ever been laid at the
foot of a Scottish altar. He told of the search for the lately ransomed and
lost terrier, by the lavish use of oil and candles; of Bobby's coming down
Castle Rock in the fog, battered and bruised for a month's careful tending by
an old Heriot laddie. His feet still showed the scars of that perilous
descent. He himself, remorseful, had gone with the Biblereader from the
Medical Mission in the Cowgate to the dormer-lighted closet in College Wynd,
where Auld Jock had died. Now he described the classic fireplace of white
freestone, with its boxed-in bed, where the Pentland shepherd lay like some
effigy on a bier, with the wee guardian dog stretched on the flagged hearth
"What a subject for a monument!" The Grand Leddy looked across the top of the
slope at the sleeping Skye. "I suppose there is no portrait of Bobby."
"Ay, your Leddyship; I have a drawing in the dining rooms, sketched by Mr.
Daniel Maclise. He was here a year or twa ago, just before his death, doing
some commission, and often had his tea in my bit place. I told him Bobby's
story, and he made the sketch for me as a souvenir of his veesit."
"I am sure you prize it, Mr. Traill. Mr. Maclise was a talented artist, but he
was not especially an animal painter. There really is no one since Landseer
paints no more."
"I would advise you, Baroness, not to make that remark at an Edinburgh
dinner-table." Glenormiston was smiling. "The pride of Auld Reekie just now is
Mr. Gourlay Stelle, who was lately commanded to Balmoral Castle to paint the
"The very person! I have seen his beautiful canvas--'Burns and the Field
Mouse.' Is he not a younger brother of Sir John Stelle, the sculptor of the
statue and character figures in the Scott monument?" Her eyes sparkled as she
added: "You have so much talent of the right, sorts here that it would be
wicked not to employ it in the good cause."
What "the good cause" was came out presently, in the church, where she
startled even Glenormiston and Mr. Traill by saying quietly to the minister
and the church officers of Greyfriars auld kirk: "When Bobby dies I want him
laid in the grave with his master."
Every member of both congregations knew Bobby and was proud of his fame, but
no official notice had ever been taken of the little dog's presence in the
churchyard. The elders and deacons were, in truth, surprised that such
distinguished attention should be directed to him now, and they were
embarrassed by it. It was not easy for any body of men in the United Kingdom
to refuse anything to Lady Burdett-Coutts, because she could always count upon
having the sympathy of the public. But this, they declared, could not be
considered. To propose to bury a dog in the historic churchyard would
scandalize the city. To this objection Glenormiston said, seriously: "The
feeling about Bobby is quite exceptional. I would be willing to put the matter
to the test of heading a petition."
At that the church officers threw up their hands. They preferred to sound
public sentiment themselves, and would consider it. But if Bobby was permitted
to be buried with his master there must be no notice taken of it. Well, the
Heriot laddies might line up along the wall, and the tenement bairns look down
from the windows. Would that satisfy her ladyship?
"As far as it goes." The Grand Leddy was smiling, but a little tremulous about
That was a day when women had little to say in public, and she meant to make a
speech, and to ask to be allowed to do an unheard-of thing.
"I want to put up a monument to the nameless man who inspired such love, and
to the little dog that was capable of giving it. Ah gentlemen, do not refuse,
now." She sketched her idea of the classic fireplace bier, the dead shepherd
of the Pentlands, and the little prostrate terrier. "Immemorial man and his
faithful dog. Our society for the prevention of cruelty to animals is finding
it so hard to get people even to admit the sacredness of life in dumb
creatures, the brutalizing effects of abuse of them on human beings, and the
moral and practical worth to us of kindness. To insist that a dog feels, that
he loves devotedly and with less calculation than men, that he grieves at a
master's death and remembers him long years, brings a smile of amusement. Ah
yes! Here in Scotland, too, where your own great Lord Erskine was a pioneer of
pity two generations ago, and with Sir Walter's dogs beloved of the literary,
and Doctor Brown's immortal 'Rab,' we find it uphill work.
"The story of Greyfriars Bobby is quite the most complete and remarkable ever
recorded in dog annals. His lifetime of devotion has been witnessed by
thousands, and honored publicly, by your own Lord Provost, with the freedom of
the city, a thing that, I believe, has no precedent. All the endearing
qualities of the dog reach their height in this loyal and lovable Highland
terrier; and he seems to have brought out the best qualities of the people who
have known him. Indeed, for fourteen years hundreds of disinherited children
have been made kinder and happier by knowing Bobby's story and having that
little dog to love."
She stopped in some embarrassment, seeing how she had let herself go, in this
warm championship, and then she added:
"Bobby does not need a monument, but I think we need one of him, that future
generations may never forget what the love of a dog may mean, to himself and
The Grand Leddy must have won her plea, then and there, but for the fact that
the matter of erecting a monument of a public character anywhere in the city
had to come up before the Burgh council. In that body the stubborn opposition
of a few members unexpectedly developed, and, in spite of popular sympathy
with the proposal, the plan was rejected. Permission was given, however, for
Lady Burdett-Coutts to put up a suitable memorial to Bobby at the end of
George IV Bridge, and opposite the main gateway to the kirkyard.
For such a public place a tomb was unsuitable. What form the memorial was to
take was not decided upon until, because of two chance happenings of one
morning, the form of it bloomed like a flower in the soul of the Grand Leddy.
She had come down to the kirkyard to watch the artist at work. Morning after
morning he had sketched there. He had drawn Bobby lying down, his nose on his
paws, asleep on the grave. He had drawn him sitting upon the table-tomb, and
standing in the begging attitude in which he was so irresistible. But with
every sketch he was dissatisfied.
Bobby was a trying and deceptive subject. He had the air of curiosity and
gaiety of other terriers. He saw no sense at all in keeping still, with his
muzzle tipped up or down, and his tail held just so. He brushed all that
unreasonable man's suggestions aside as quite unworthy of consideration.
Besides, he had the liveliest interest in the astonishing little dog that grew
and disappeared, and came back, in some new attitude, on the canvas. He
scraped acquaintance with it once or twice to the damage of fresh brush-work.
He was always jumping from his pose and running around the easel to see how
the latest dog was coming on.
After a number of mornings Bobby lost interest in the man and his occupation
and went about his ordinary routine of life as if the artist was not there at
all. One morning the wee terrier was found sitting on the table-tomb, on his
haunches, looking up toward the Castle, where clouds and birds were blown
around the sun-gilded battlements.
His attitude might have meant anything or nothing, for the man who looked at
him from above could not see his expression. And all at once he realized that
to see Bobby a human being must get down to his level. To the scandal of the
children, he lay on his back on the grass and did nothing at all but look up
at Bobby until the little dog moved. Then he set the wee Highlander up on an
altar-topped shaft just above the level of the human eye. Indifferent at the
moment as to what was done to him, Bobby continued to gaze up and out,
wistfully and patiently, upon this masterless world. As plainly as a little
dog could speak, Bobby said:
"I hae bided lang an' lanely. Hoo lang hae I still to bide? An' syne, wull I
be gangin' to Auld Jock?"
The Grand Leddy saw that at once, and tears started to her eyes when she came
in to find the artist sketching with feverish rapidity. She confessed that she
had looked into Bobby's eyes, but she had never truly seen that mourning
little creature before. He had only to be set up so, in bronze, and looking
through the kirkyard gate, to tell his own story to the most careless
passerby. The image of the simple memorial was clear in her mind, and it
seemed unlikely that anything could be added to it, when she left the
As she was getting into her carriage a noble collie, but one with a
discouraged tail and hanging tongue, came out of Forest Road. He had done a
hard morning's work, of driving a flock from the Pentlands to the cattle and
sheep market, and then had hunted far and unsuccessfully for water. He nosed
along the gutter, here and there licking from the cobblestones what muddy
moisture had not drained away from a recent rain. The same lady who had fed
the carrots to the coster's donkey in London turned hastily into Ye Olde
Greyfriars Dining-Rooms, and asked Mr. Traill for a basin of water. The
landlord thought he must have misunderstood her. "Is it a glass of water your
"No, a basin, please; a large one, and very quickly."
She took it from him, hurried out, and set it under the thirsty animal's nose.
The collie lapped it eagerly until the water was gone, then looked up and, by
waggings and lickings, asked for more. Mr. Traill brought out a second basin,
and he remarked upon a sheep-dog's capacity for water.
"It's no' a basin will satisfy him, used as he is to having a tam on the moor
to drink from. This neeborhood is noted for the dogs that are aye passing. On
Wednesdays the farm dogs come up from the Grassmarket, and every day there are
weel-cared-for dogs from the residence streets, dogs of all conditions across
the bridge from High Street, and meeserable waifs from the Cowgate. Stray
pussies are about, too. I'm a gude-hearted man, and an unco' observant one,
your Leddyship, but I was no' thinking that these animals must often suffer
"Few people do think of it. Most men can love some one dog or cat or horse and
be attentive to its wants, but they take little thought for the world of dumb
animals that are so dependent upon us. It is no special credit to you, Mr.
Traill, that you became fond of an attractive little dog like Bobby and have
cared for him so tenderly."
The landlord gasped. He had taken not a little pride in his stanch
championship and watchful care of Bobby, and his pride had beer increased by
the admiration that had been lavished on him for years by the general public.
Now, as he afterward confessed to Mr. Brown:
"Her leddyship made me feel I'd done naething by the ordinar', but maistly to
please my ainsel'. Eh, man, she made me sing sma'."
When the collie had finished drinking, he looked up gratefully, rubbed against
the good Samaritans, waved his plumed tail like a banner, and trotted away.
After a thoughtful moment Lady Burdett-Coutts said:
"The suitable memorial here, Mr. Traill, is a fountain, with a low basin level
with the curb, and a higher one, and Bobby sitting on an altar-topped central
column above, looking through the kirkyard gate. It shall be his mission to
bring men and small animals together in sympathy by offering to both the cup
of cold water."
She was there once again that year. On her way north she stopped in Edinburgh
over night to see how the work on the fountain had progressed. It was in
Scotland's best season, most of the days dry and bright and sharp. But on that
day it was misting, and yellow leaves were dropping on the wet tombs and
beaded grass, when the Grand Leddy appeared at the kirkyard late in the
afternoon with a wreath of laurel to lay on Auld Jock's grave.
Bobby slipped out, dry as his own delectable bone, from under the tomb of
Mistress Jean Grant, and nearly wagged his tail off with pleasure. Mistress
Jeanie was set in a proud flutter when the Grand Leddy rang at the lodge
kitchen and asked if she and Bobby could have their tea there with the old
couple by the cozy grate fire.
They all drank tea from the best blue cups, and ate buttered scones and
strawberry jam on the scoured deal table. Bobby had his porridge and broth on
the hearth. The coals snapped in the grate and the firelight danced merrily on
the skylark's cage and the copper kettle. Mr. Brown got out his fife and
played "Bonnie Dundee." Wee, silver-white Bobby tried to dance, but he tumbled
over so lamentably once or twice that he hung his head apologetically,
admitting that he ought to have the sense to know that his dancing days were
done. He lay down and lolled and blinked on the hearth until the Grand Leddy
rose to go.
"I am on my way to Braemar to visit for a few days at Balmoral Castle. I wish
I could take Bobby with me to show him to the dear Queen."
"Preserve me!" cried Mistress Jeanie, and Mr. Brown's pet pipe was in
fragments on the hearth.
Bobby leaped upon her and whimpered, saying "Dinna gang, Leddy!" as plainly as
a little dog could say anything. He showed the pathos at parting with one he
was fond of, now, that an old and affectionate person shows. He clung to her
gown, rubbed his rough head under her hand, and trotted disconsolately beside
her to her waiting carriage. At the very last she said, sadly:
"The Queen will have to come to Edinburgh to see Bobby."
"The bonny wee wad be a prood doggie, yer Leddyship," Mistress Jeanie managed
to stammer, but Mr. Brown was beyond speech.
The Grand Leddy said nothing. She looked at the foundation work of Bobby's
memorial fountain, swathed in canvas against the winter, and waiting--waiting
for the spring, when the waters of the earth should be unsealed again; waiting
until finis could be written to a story on a bronze table-tomb; waiting for
the effigy of a shaggy Skye terrier to be cast and set up; waiting--
When the Queen came to see Bobby it was unlikely that he would know anything
He would know nothing of the crowds to gather there on a public occasion,
massing on the bridge, in Greyfriars Place, in broad Chambers Street, and down
Candlemakers Row--the magistrates and Burgh council, professors and students
from the University, soldiers from the Castle, the neighboring nobility in
carriages, farmers and shepherds from the Pentlands, the Heriot laddies
marching from the school, and the tenement children in holiday duddies--all to
honor the memory of a devoted little dog. He would know nothing of the
military music and flowers, the prayer of the minister of Greyfriars auld
kirk, the speech of the Lord Provost; nothing of the happy tears of the Grand
Leddy when a veil should fall away from a little bronze dog that gazed
wistfully through the kirkyard gate, and water gush forth for the refreshment
of men and animals.
"Good-by, good-by, good-by, Bobby; most loving and lovable, darlingest wee dog
in the world!" she cried, and a shower of bright drops and sweet little sounds
fell on Bobby's tousled head. Then the carriage of the Grand Leddy rolled away
in the rainy dusk.
The hour-bell of St. Giles was rung, and the sunset bugle blown in the Castle.
It took Mr. Brown a long time to lift the wicket, close the tall leaves and
lock the gate. The wind was rising, and the air hardening. One after one the
gas lamps flared in the gusts that blew on the bridge. The huge bulk of shadow
lay, velvet black, in the drenched quarry pit of the Grassmarket. The
caretaker's voice was husky with a sudden "cauld in 'is heid."
"Ye're an auld dog, Bobby, an' ye canna deny it. Ye'll juist hae to sleep i'
the hoose the misty nicht."
Loath to part with them, Bobby went up to the lodge with the old couple and
saw them within the cheerful kitchen. But when the door was held open for him,
he wagged his tail in farewell and trotted away around the kirk. All the
concession he was willing to make to old age and bad weather was to sleep
under the fallen table-tomb.
Greyfriars on a dripping autumn evening! A pensive hour and season, everything
memorable brooded there. Crouched back in shadowy ranks, the old tombs were
draped in mystery. The mist was swirled by the wind and smoke smeared out,
over their dim shapes. Where families sat close about scant suppers, the
lights of candles and cruisey lamps were blurred. The faintest halo hung above
the Castle head. Infrequent footsteps hurried by the gate. There was the
rattle of a belated cart, the ring of a distant church bell. But even on such
nights the casements were opened and little faces looked into the melancholy
kirkyard. Candles glimmered for a moment on the murk, and sweetly and clearly
the tenement bairns called down:
"A gude nicht to ye, Bobby."
They could not see the little dog, but they knew he was there. They knew now
that he would still be there when they could see him no more--his body a part
of the soil, his memory a part of all that was held dear and imperishable in
that old garden of souls. They could go up to the lodge and look at his famous
collar, and they would have his image in bronze on the fountain. And sometime,
when the mysterious door opened for them, they might see Bobby again, a sonsie
doggie running on the green pastures and beside the still waters, at the heels
of his shepherd master, for:
If there is not more love in this world than there is room for in God's
heaven, Bobby would just have "gaen awa' hame."