Greyfriar's Bobby/Chapter XI
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 citadel.
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 knee.
"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 home.
"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 noo."
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 was rooted.
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 indignities.
"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 complained.
"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 Geordie."
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 in dismay.
"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 landlord.
"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 an' nichtfa'."
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 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 gate.
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."