Greyfriar's Bobby/Chapter XII
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 on.
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 the sky.
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 be near:
"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 last words:
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 master.
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 kirkyard.
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 his tongue.
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 afore."
"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 terrier."
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 and appealing.
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 laddie.
"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, thoughtfully.
"Oh--my--dear! That's the very best part of the story!" The Grand Leddy had a shining look.
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 startled.
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 from London."
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 below.
"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 Queen's dogs."
"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 the mouth.
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 to us."
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 kirkyard.
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 Leddyship's wanting?"
"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 from thirst."
"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 about it.
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."