FOUR-AND-THIRTY years ago,
Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary Street from the Edinburgh High
School, our heads together, and our arms inter-twisted, as only lovers and
boys know how, or why.
When we got to the top of the
street, and turned north, we espied a crowd at the Tron Church. "A
dog-fight!" shouted Bob, and was off; and so was I, both of us all but
praying that it might not be over before we got up! And is not this
boy-nature? and human nature too? and don't we all wish a house on fire not
to be out before we see it? Dogs like fighting; old Isaac says they
"delight" in it, and for the best of all reasons; and boys are not cruel
because they like to see the fight. They see three of the great cardinal
virtues of dog or man — courage, endurance, and skill — in intense action.
This is very different from a love of making dogs fight, and enjoying, and
aggravating, and making gain by their pluck. A boy — be he ever so fond
himself of fighting, if he be a good boy, hates and despises all this, but
he would have run off with Bob and me fast enough: it is a natural, and a
not wicked interest, that all boys and men have in witnessing intense energy
Does any curious and
finely-ignorant woman wish to know how Bob's eye at a glance announced a
dogfight to his brain ? He did not, lie could not see the dogs fighting; it
was a flash of an inference, a rapid induction. The crowd round a couple of
dogs fight-in;, is a crowd masculine mainly, with an occasional active,
compassionate woman, fluttering wildly round the outside, and using her
tongue and her hands freely upon the men, as so many "brutes;" it is a crowd
annular, compact, and mobile; a crowd centripetal, having its eyes and its
heads all bent downwards and inwards, to one common focus.
Well, Bob and I are up, and
find it is not over: a small thoroughbred, white Bull Terrier, is busy
throttling a large shepherd's dog, unaccustomed to war, but not to be
trifled with. They are hard at it; the scientific little fellow doing his
work in great style, his pastoral enemy fighting wildly, but with the
sharpest of teeth and a great courage. Science and breeding, however, soon
had their own; the Game Chicken, as the premature Bob called him, working
his way up, took his final grip of poor Yarrow's throat, — and he lay
gasping and done for. His master, a brown, handsome, big young shepherd from
Tweedsmuir, would have liked to have knocked down any man, would "drink up
Esil, or eat a crocodile," for that part, if he had a chance: it was no use
kicking the little dog; that would only make him hold the closer. Many were
the means shouted out in mouthfuls, of the best possible ways of ending it.
"Water!" but there was none near, and many cried for it who might have got
it from the well at Blackfriars Wynd. "Bite the tail!" and a large, vague,
benevolent, middle-aged man, more desirous than wise, with some struggle got
the bushy end of Yarrow's tail into his ample mouth, and bit it with all his
might. This was more than enough for the much-enduring, much-perspiring
shepherd, who, with a gleam of joy over his broad visage, delivered a
terrific facer upon our large, vague, benevolent, middle-aged friend, — who
went down like a shot.
Still the Chicken holds;
death not far off. "Snuff! a pinch of snuff!" observed a calm,
highly-dressed young buck, with an eye-glass in his eye. "Snuff, indeed!"
growled the angry crowd, affronted and glaring. "Snuff! a pinch of snuff!"
again observed the buck, but with more urgency; whereon were produced
several open boxes, and from a mull which may have been at Culloden, he took
a pinch, knelt down, and presented it to the nose of the Chicken. The laws
of physiology and of snuff take their course; the Chicken sneezes, and
Yarrow is free!
The young pastoral giant
stalks off with Yarrow in his arms, — comforting him.
But the Bull Terrier's blood
is up, and his soul unsatisfied; he grips the first dog he meets, and
discovering she is not a dog, in Homeric phrase, he makes a brief sort of
amends, and is off. The boys, with Bob and me at their head, are after him:
down Niddry Street he goes, bent on mischief; up the Cowgate like an arrow —
Bob and I, and our small men, panting behind.
There, under the single arch
of the South Bridge, is a huge mastiff, sauntering down the middle of the
causeway, as if with his hands in his pockets: he is old, gray, brindled, as
big as a little Highland bull, and has the Shakesperian dewlaps shaking as
The Chicken makes straight at
him, and fastens on his throat. To our astonishment, the great creature does
nothing but stand still, hold himself up, and roar — yes, roar; a long,
serious, remonstrative roar. How is this? Bob and I are up to them. He is
muzzled! The bailies had proclaimed a general muzzling, and his master,
studying strength and economy mainly, had encompassed his huge jaws in a
home-made apparatus, constructed out of the leather of some ancient breechin.
His mouth was open as far as it could; his lips curled up in rage — a sort
of terrible grin; his teeth gleaming, ready, from out the darkness; the
strap across his mouth tense as a bowstring; his whole frame stiff with
indignation and surprise; his roar asking us all round, "Did you ever see
the like of this?" He looked a statue of anger and astonishment, done in
We soon had a crowd: the
Chicken held on. "A knife! " cried Bob; and a cobbler gave him his knife:
you know the kind of. knife, worn away obliquely to a point, and always
keen. I put its edge to the tense leather; it ran before it; and then! --
one sudden jerk of that enormous head, a sort of dirty mist about his mouth,
no noise, — and the bright and fierce little fellow is dropped, limp, and
dead. A solemn pause: this was more than any of us had bargained for. I
turned the little fellow over, and saw he was quite dead; the mastiff had
taken him by the small of the back like a rat, and broken it.
He looked down at his victim
appeased, ashamed, and amazed; snuffed him all over, stared at him, and
taking a sudden thought, turned round and trotted off. Bob took the dead dog
up, and said, "John, we'll bury him after tea." "Yes," said I, and was off
after the mastiff. He made up the Cowgate at a rapid swing; he had forgotten
some engagement. He turned up the Candlemaker Row, and stopped at the Harrow
There was a carrier's cart
ready to start, and a keen, thin, impatient, black-a-vised little man, his
hand at his gray horse's head, looking about angrily for something. "Rab, ye
thief!" said he, aiming a kick at my great friend, who drew cringing up, and
avoiding the heavy shoe with more agility than dignity, and watching his
master's eye, slunk dismayed under the cart, — his ears down, and as much as
he had of tail down too.
What a man this must be —
thought I — to whom my tremendous hero turns tail! The carrier saw the
muzzle hanging, cut and useless, from his neck, and I eagerly told him the
story, which Bob and I always thought, and still think, Homer, or King
David, or Sir Walter alone were worthy to rehearse. The severe little man
was mitigated, and condescended to say," Rab, my man, puir Rabbie," —
whereupon the stump of a tail rose up, the ears were cocked, the eyes
filled, and were comforted; the two friends were reconciled. "Hupp!" and a
stroke of the whip were given to Jess; and off went the three.
Bob and I buried the Game
Chicken that night (we had not much of a tea) in the back-green of his house
in Melville Street, No. 17, with considerable gravity and silence; and being
at the time in the Iliad, and, like all boys, Trojans, we called him Hector
Six years have passed, — a
long time for a boy and a dog: Bob Ainslie is off to the wars; I am a
medical student, and clerk at Minto House Hospital.
Rab I saw almost every week,
on the Wednesday, and we had much pleasant intimacy. I found the way to his
heart by frequent scratching of his huge head, and an occasional bone. When
I did not notice him he would plant .himself straight before me, and stand
wagging that bud of a tail, and looking up, with his head a little to the
one side. His master I occasionally saw; he used to call me "Maister John,"
but was laconic as any Spartan.
One fine October afternoon, I
was leaving the hospital, when I saw the large gate open, and in walked
flab, with that great and easy saunter of his. Ile looked as if taking
general possession of the place; like the Duke of Wellington entering a
subdued city, satiated with victory and peace. After him came Jess, now
white from age, with her cart; and in it a woman, carefully wrapped up, —
the carrier leading the horse anxiously, and looking back. When he saw me,
James (for his name was James Noble) made a curt and grotesque "boo," and
said, "Maister John, this is the mistress; she's got a trouble in her breest
— some kind o' an income we're thinking."
By this time I saw the
woman's face; she was sitting on a sack filled with straw, her husband's
plaid round her, and his big-coat with its large white metal buttons, over
I never saw a more
unforgetable face — pale, serious, lonely, [It is not easy giving this look
by one word; it was expressive of her being so much of her life alone.]
delicate, sweet, without being at all what we call fine. She looked sixty,
and had on a mutch, white as snow, with its black ribbon; her silvery,
smooth hair setting off her dark-gray eyes — eyes such as one sees only
twice or thrice in a lifetime, full of suffering, full also of the
overcoming of it: her eyebrows black and delicate, and her mouth firm,
patient, and contented, which few mouths ever are.
As I have said, I never saw a
more beautiful countenance, or one more subdued to settled quiet. "Ailie,"
said James, "this is Maister John, the young doctor; Rab's freend, ye ken.
We often speak aboot you, doctor." She smiled, and made a movement, but said
nothing; and prepared to come down, putting her plaid aside and rising. Had
Solomon, in all his glory, been handing down the Queen of Sheba at his
palace gate he could not have done it more daintily, more tenderly, more
like a gentleman, than did James the Howgate carrier, when he lifted down
Ailie his wife. The contrast of his small, swarthy, weather-beaten, keen,
worldly face to hers — pale, subdued, and beautiful—was something wonderful.
Rab looked on concerned and puzzled, but ready for anything that might turn
up, — were it to strangle the nurse, the porter, or even me. Ailie and he
seemed great friends.
"As I was sayin' she's got a
kind o' trouble in her breest, doctor; wull ye tak' a look at it?" We walked
into the consulting-room, all four; Rab grim and comic, willing to be happy
and confidential if cause could be shown, willing also to be the reverse, on
the same terms. Ailie sat down, undid her open gown and her lawn
handkerchief round her neck, and without a word, showed me her right breast.
I looked at and examined it carefully, — she and James watching me, and Rab
eying all three. What could I say? there it was, that had once been so soft,
so shapely, so white, so gracious and bountiful, so "full of all blessed
conditions," — hard as a stone, a centre of horrid pain, making that pale
face, with its gray, lucid, reasonable eyes, and its sweet resolved mouth,
express the full measure of suffering overcome. Why was that gentle, modest,
sweet woman, clean and lovable, condemned by God to bear such a burden?
I got her away to bed. "May
Rab and me bide?" said James. "You may; and Rab, if he will behave himself."
"I 'se warrant he's do that, doctor;" and in slank the faithful beast. I
wish you could have seen him. There are no such dogs now. He belonged to a
lost tribe. As I have said, he was brindled and gray like Rubislaw granite;
his hair short, hard, and close, like a lion's; his body thick set, like a
little bull — a sort of compressed Hercules of a dog. He must have been
ninety pounds' weight, at the least; he had a large blunt head; his muzzle
black as night, his mouth blacker than any night, a tooth or two — being all
he had — gleaming out of his jaws of darkness. His head was scarred with the
records of old wounds, a sort of series of fields of battle all over it; one
eye out, one ear cropped as close as was Archbishop Leighton's father's; the
remaining eye had the power of two; and above it, and in constant
communication with it, was a tattered rag of an ear, which was forever
unfurling itself, like an old flag; and then that bud of a tail, about one
inch Iong, if it could in any sense be said to be long, being as broad as
long - the mobility, the instantaneousness of that bud were very funny and
surprising, and its expressive twinklings and winkings, the
intercommunications between the eye, the ear, and it, were of the oddest and
Rab had the dignity and
simplicity of great size; and having fought his way all along the road to
absolute supremacy, he was as mighty in his own line as Julius Cmsar or the
Duke of Wellington, and had the gravity [A Highland game-keeper, when asked
why a certain terrier, of singular pluck, was so much more solemn than the
other dogs, said, "Oh, Sir, life's full o' sairiousness to him — he just
never can get enuff o' fechtin'."] of all great fighters.
You must have often observed
the likeness of certain men to certain animals, and of certain dogs to men.
Now, I never looked at Rab without thinking of the great Baptist preacher,
Andrew Fuller. [Fuller was, in early life, when a farmer lad at Soham,
famous as a boxer; not quarrelsome, but not without "the stern delight" a
man of strength and courage feels in their exercise. Dr. Charles Stewart, of
Dunearn, whose rare gifts and graces as a physician, a divine, a scholar,
and a gentleman, live only in the memory of those few who knew and survive
him, liked to tell how Mr. Fuller used to say, that when he was in the
pulpit, and saw a buirdly man come along the passage, he would instinctively
draw himself up, measure his imaginary antagonist, and forecast how he would
deal with him, his hands meanwhile condensing into fists, and tending to
"square." He must have been a hard hitter if he boxed as he preached — what
"The Fancy" would call "an ugly customer."] The same large, heavy, menacing,
combative, sombre, honest countenance, the same deep inevitable eye, the
same look, — as of thunder asleep, but ready, - neither a dog nor a man to
be trifled with.
Next day, my master, the
surgeon, examined Ailie. There was no doubt it must kill her, and soon. It
could be removed — it might never return — it would give her speedy relief —
she should have it done. She curtsied, looked at James, and said, "When?"
"To-morrow," said the kind surgeon — a man of few words. She and James and
Rab and I retired. I noticed that he and she spoke little, but seemed to
anticipate everything in each other. The following day, at noon, the
students came in, hurrying up the great stair. At the first landing-place,
on a small well-known blackboard, was a bit of paper fastened by wafers and
many remains of old wafers beside it. On the paper were the words, — "An
operation today. J. B. Cleric."
Up ran the youths, eager to
secure good places; in they crowded, full of interest and talk. "What's the
case?" "Which side is it?"
Don't think them heartless;
they are neither better nor worse than you or I; they get over their
professional horrors, and into their proper work — and in them pity — as an
emotion, ending in itself or at best in tears and a long-drawn breath —
lessens, while pity as a motive is quickened, and gains power and purpose.
It is well for poor human nature that it is so.
The operating theatre is
crowded; much talk and fun, and all the cordiality and stir of youth. The
surgeon with his staff of assistants is there. In comes Ailie: one look at
her quiets and abates the eager students. That beautiful old woman is too
much for them; they sit down, and are dumb, and gaze at her. These rough
boys feel the power of her presence. She walks in quickly, but without
haste; dressed in her mutch, her neckerchief, her white dimity short-gown,
her black bombazine petticoat, showing her white worsted stockings and her
carpet-shoes. Behind her was James with Rab. James sat down in the distance,
and took that huge and noble head between his knees. Rab looked perplexed
and dangerous; forever cocking his ear and dropping it as fast.
Ailie stepped up on a seat,
and laid herself on the table, as her friend the surgeon told her; arranged
herself, gave a rapid look at James, shut her eyes, rested herself on me,
and took my hand. The operation was at once begun; it was necessarily slow;
and chloroform — one of God's best gifts to his suffering children — was
then unknown. The surgeon did his work. The pale face showed its pain, but
was still and silent. Rab's soul was working within him; he saw that
something strange was going on, —blood flowing from his mistress, and she
suffering; his ragged ear was up, and importunate; he growled and gave now
and then a sharp impatient yelp; he would have liked to have done something
to that man. But James had him firm, and gave him a glower from time to
time, and an intimation of a possible kick; — all the better for James, it
kept his eye and his mind off Ailie.
It is over: she is dressed,
steps gently and decently down from the table, looks for James; then,
turning to the surgeon and the students, she curtsies, — and in a low, clear
voice, begs their pardon if she has behaved ill. The students — all of us —
wept like children; the surgeon happed her up carefully, - and, resting on
James and me, Ailie went to her room, Rab following. We put her to bed.
James took off his heavy shoes, crammed with tackets, heel-capt, and
toe-rapt and put them carefully under the table, saying, "Maister John, I'm
for nane o' yer strynge nurse bodies for Ailie. I'll be her nurse, and I'll
gang ahoot on my stockin' soles as canny as pussy." And so he did; and handy
and clever, and swift and tender as any woman, was that horny-handed, snell,
peremptory little man. Everything she got he gave her: he seldom slept; and
often I saw his small shrewd eyes out of the darkness, fixed on her. As
before, they spoke little.
Rab behaved well, never
moving, showing us how meek and gentle he could be, and occasionally, in his
sleep, letting us know that he was demolishing some adversary. He took a
walk with me every day, generally to the Candlemaker Row; but he was sombre
and mild; declined doing battle, though some fit cases offered, and indeed
submitted to sundry indignities; and was always very ready to turn, and came
faster back, and trotted up the stair with much lightness, and went straight
to that door.
Jess, the mare, had been
sent, with her weather-worn cart, to Howgate, and had doubtless her own dim
and placid meditations and confusions, on the absence of her master and Rab,
and her unnatural freedom from the road and her cart.
For some days Ailie did well.
The wound healed "by the first intention;" for as James said, "Our Ailie's
skin 's over clean to beil." The students came in quiet and anxious, and
surrounded her bed. She said she liked to see their young, honest faces. The
surgeon dressed her, and spoke to her in his own short kind way, pitying her
through his eyes, Rab and James outside the circle, — Rab being now
reconciled, and even cordial, and having made up his mind that as yet nobody
required worrying, but, as you may suppose, semper paratus.
So far well: but, four days
after the operation, my patient had a sudden and long shivering, a "groosin',"
as she called it. I saw her soon after; her eyes were too bright, her cheek
colored; she was restless, and ashamed of being so; the balance was lost;
mischief had begun. On looking at the wound, a blush of red told the secret:
her pulse was rapid, her breathing anxious and quick, she was n't herself,
as she said, and was vexed at her restlessness. We tried what we could;
James did everything, was everywhere; never in the way, never out of it; Rab
subsided under the table into a dark place, and was motionless, all but his
eye, which followed every one. Ailie got worse; began to wander in her mind,
gently; was more demonstrative in her ways to James, rapid in her questions,
and sharp at times. He was vexed, and said, "She was never that way afore;
no, never." For a time she knew her head was wrong, and was always asking
our pardon — the dear, gentle old woman: then delirium set in strong,
without pause. Her brain gave way, and then came that terrible spectacle,
"The intellectual power,
through words and things,
Went sounding on its dim and perilous way,"
she sang bits of old songs
and Psalms, stopping suddenly, mingling the Psalms of David and the diviner
words of his Son and Lord, with homely odds and ends and scraps of ballads.
Nothing more touching, or in
a sense more strangely beautiful, did I ever witness. Her tremulous, rapid,
affectionate, eager, Scotch voice, — the swift, aimless, bewildered mind,
the baffled utterance, the bright and perilous eye; some wild words, some
household cares, something for James, the names of the dead, Rab called
rapidly and in a "fretnyt" voice, and he starting up surprised, and slinking
off as if he were to blame somehow, or had been dreaming he heard; many
eager questions and beseechings which James and I could make nothing of, and
on which she seemed to set her all, and then sink back ununderstood. It was
very sad, but better than many things that are not called sad. James hovered
about, put out and miserable, but active and exact as ever; read to her when
there was a lull, short bits from the Psalms, prose and metre, chanting the
latter in his own rude and serious way, showing great knowledge of the fit
words, bearing up like a man, and doating over her as his "ain Ailie." "Ailie,
ma woman!" "Ma ain bonnie wee dawtie!"
The end was drawing on: the
golden bowl was breaking; the silver cord was fast being loosed —that
animula blandula, vauicla, hospes, comesque, was about to flee. The body and
the soul — companions for sixty years — were being sundered, and taking
leave. She was walking alone, through the valley of that shadow, into which
one day we must all enter, — and yet she was not alone, for we know whose
rod and staff were comforting her.
One night she had fallen
quiet, and as we hoped, asleep; her eyes were shut. We put down the gas, and
sat watching her. Suddenly she sat up in bed, and taking a bed-gown which
was lying on it rolled up, she held it eagerly to her breast, — to the right
side. We could see her eyes bright with a surprising tenderness and joy,
bending over this bundle of clothes. She held it as a woman holds her
sucking child; opening out her night-gown impatiently, and holding it close,
and brooding over it, and murmuring foolish little words, as over one whom
his mother comforteth, and who sucks and is satisfied. It was pitiful and
strange to see her wasted dying look, keen and yet vague — her immense love.
"Preserve me!" groaned James,
giving way. And then she rocked back and forward, as if to make it sleep,
hushing it, and wasting on it her infinite fondness. "Wae's me, doctor; I
declare she's thinkin' it's that bairn." "What bairn?" "The only bairn we
ever had; our wee Mysie, and she's in the Kingdom, forty years and mair." It
was plainly true: the pain in the breast, telling its urgent story to a
bewildered, ruined brain, was misread and mistaken; it suggested to her the
uneasiness of a breast full of milk, and then the child; and so again once
more they were together, and she had her ain wee Mysie in her bosons.
This was the close. She sank
rapidly: the delirium left her; but, as she whispered, she was "clean
silly;" it was the lightening before the final darkness. After having for
some time lain still — her eyes shut, she said "James!" He came close to
her, and lifting up her calm, clear, beautiful eyes, she gave him a long
look, turned to me kindly but shortly, looked for Rab but could not see him,
then turned to her husband again, as if she would never leave off looking,
shut her eyes, and composed herself. She lay for some time breathing quick,
and passed away so gently, that when we thought she was gone, James, in his
old-fashioned way, held the mirror to her face. After a long pause, one
small spot of dimness was breathed out; it vanished away, and never
returned, leaving the blank clear darkness of the mirror without a stain.
"What is our life? it is even a vapor, which appeareth for a little time,
and then vanisheth away."
Rab all this time had been
full awake and motionless; he came forward beside us: Ailie's hand, which
James had held, was hanging down; it was soaked with his tears; Rab licked
it all over carefully, looked at her, and returned to his place under the
James and I sat, I don't know
how long, but for some time, — saying nothing: he started up abruptly, and
with some noise went to the table, and putting his right fore and middle
fingers each into a shoe, pulled them out, and put them on, breaking one of
the leather latchets, and muttering in anger, "I never did the like o' that
I believe he never did; nor
after either. "Rab! he said roughly, and pointing with his thumb to the
bottom of the bed. Rab leapt up, and settled himself; his head and eye to
the dead face. "Maister John, ye'll wait for me," said the carrier; and
disappeared in the darkness, thundering down-stairs in his heavy shoes. I
ran to a front window; there he was, already round the house, and out at the
gate, fleeing like a shadow.
I was afraid about him, and
yet not afraid; so I sat down beside Rab, and being wearied, fell asleep. I
awoke from a sudden noise outside. It was November, and there had been a
heavy fall of snow. Rab was in state quo; he heard the noise too, and
plainly knew it, but never moved. I looked out; and there, at the gate, in
the dim morning — for the sun was not up — was Jess and the cart, — a cloud
of steam rising from the old mare. I did not see James; he was already at
the door, and came up the stairs, and met me. It was less than three hours
since he left, and he must have posted out — who knows how? — to Howgate,
full nine miles off; yoked Jess, and driven her astonished into town. He had
an armful of blankets, and was streaming with perspiration. He nodded to me,
spread out on the floor two pairs of clean old blankets having at their
corners, "A. G., 1794," in large letters in red worsted. These were the
initials of Alison Graeme, and James may have looked in at her from without
— himself unseen but not unthought of — when he was "wat, wat, and weary,"
and after having walked many a mile over the hills, may have seen her
sitting, while "a' the lave were sleepin';" and by the firelight working her
name on the blankets, for her ain James's bed.
He motioned Rab down, and
taking his wife in his arms, laid her in the blankets, and happed her
carefully and firmly up, leaving the face uncovered; and then lifting her he
nodded again sharply to me, and with a resolved but utterly miserable face,
strode along the passage, and down-stairs, followed by Rab. I followed with
a light; but he didn't need it. I went out, holding stupidly the candle in
my hand in the calm frosty air; we were soon at the gate. I could have
helped him, but I saw he was not to be meddled with, and he was strong, and
did not need it. He laid her down as tenderly, as safely, as he had lifted
her out ten days before — as tenderly as when he had her first in his arms
when she was only "A. G.," — sorted her, leaving that beautiful sealed face
open to the heavens; and then taking Jess by the head, he moved away. He did
not notice me, neither did Rab, who presided behind the cart.
I stood till they passed
through the long shadow of the College, and turned up Nicolson Street. I
heard the solitary cart sound through the streets, and die away and come
again; and I returned, thinking of that company going up Libberton Brae,
then along Roslin Muir, the morning light touching the Pentlands and making
them like on-looking ghosts, then down the hill through Auchindinny woods,
past "haunted Woodhouselee;" and as daybreak came sweeping up the bleak
Larnmermuirs, and fell on his own door, the company would stop, and James
would take the key, and lift Ailie up again, laying her on her own bed, and,
having put Jess up, would return with Rab and shut the door.
James buried his wife, with
his neighbors mourning, Rab inspecting the solemnity from a distance. It was
snow, and that black ragged hole would look strange in the midst of the
swelling spotless cushion of white. James looked after everything; then
rather suddenly fell ill, and took to bed; was insensible when the doctor
came, and soon died. A sort of low fever was prevailing in the village, and
his want of sleep, his exhaustion, and his misery, made him apt to take it.
The grave was not difficult to reopen. A fresh fall of snow had again made
all things white and smooth; Rab once more looked on, and slunk home to the
And what of Rab? I asked for
him next week of the new carrier who got the goodwill of James's business,
and was now master of Jess and her cart. "How 's Rab?" He put me off, and
said rather rudely, "What your business wi' the dowg?" I was not to be so
put off. "Where 's Rab?" He, getting confused and red, and intermeddling
with his hair, said, "'Deed, sir, Rab 's deid." "Dead! what did he die of?"
"Weel, sir," said he, getting redder, "he did na exactly dee; he was killed.
I had to brain him wi' a rack-pin; there was nae loin' wi' him. He lay in
the treviss wi' the mear, and wad na come oot. I tempit him wi' kail and
meat, but he wad talc naething, and keepit me frae feedin' the beast, and he
was aye gur gurrin,' and grup gruppin' me by the legs. I was laith to make
awa wi' the auld dog, his like was na atween this and Thornhill, — but,
'deed, sir, I could do naething else." I believed him. Fit end for Rab,
quick and complete. His teeth and his friends gone, why should he keep the
peace, and be civil?