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Rab and his Friends
More of "Our Dogs"


PETER

PETER (lied young, -- very quick and soon that bright thin(, came to confusion. He died of excess of life ; his vivacity slew him. Plucky and silent under punishment, or any pain from without, pain from within, in his own, precious, brisk, enjoying body, was an insufferable offense, affront, and mystery, — an astonishment not to be borne, — he disdained to live under such conditions.

One day he came in howling with pain. There was no injury, no visible cause, but he was wildly ill, and in his eyes the end of all things had come. He put so many questions to us at each pang — what is this? — what the can it be? — did you ever? As each paroxysm doubled him up, he gave a sharp cry, more of rage and utter exasperation than of suffering; he got up to run away from it — why should he die? Why should he be shut up in darkness and obstruction at that hour of his opening morn, — his sweet hour of prime? And so raging, and utterly put out, the honest, dear little fellow went off in an ecstasy of fury at death. at its absurdity in his case.

We never could explain his death; it was not poison or injury; he actually expired when careering round the green at full speed, as if to outrun his enemy, or shake him off. We have not yet got over his loss, and all the possibilities that lie buried in his grave, in the Park, beneath a young chestnut-tree where the ruddy-checked, fat, and cordial coachman, who of old, in the grand old Reform days, used to drive his master, Mr. Speaker Abercromby, down to "the House " with much stateliness and bouquet, and I dug it for him, — that Park in which Peter had often disported himself, fluttering the cocks and hens, and putting to flight the squadron of Gleneagle's wedders.

DICK

He too is dead, — he who, never having been born, we had hoped never would die; not that he did — like Rab - "exactly" die; he was slain. He was fourteen, and getting deaf and blind, and a big bully of a retriever fell on him one Sunday morning when the bells were ringing. Dick, who always fought at any odds, gave battle; a Sabbatarian cab turned the corner, the big dog fled, and Dick was run over, — there in his own street, as all his many friends were going to church. His back was broken, and he died on Monday night with us all about him; dear for his own sake, dearer for another's, whose name — Sine Qua Non — is now more than ever true, now that she is gone.

I was greatly pleased when Dr. Cotting of Roxbury came in yesterday and introduced himself to me by asking, "Where is Dick?" To think of our Dick being known in Massachusetts!

BOB

If Peter was the incarnation of vivacity, Bob was that of energy. He should have been called Thalaba the Destroyer. He rejoiced in demolition, — not from ill temper, but from the sheer delight of energizing.

When I first knew him he was at Blinkbonny toll. The tollman and his wife were old and the house lonely, and Bob was too terrific for any burglar. He was as tall and heavy as a foxhound, but in every other respect a pure old-fashioned, wiry, short-haired Scotch terrier, — red as Rob Boy's beard, — having indeed other qualities of Rob's than his hair, —choleric, unscrupulous, affectionate, staunch, — not in the least magnanimous, — as ready to worry a little dog as a big one. Fighting was his "chief end," and he omitted no opportunity of accomplishing his end. Rab liked fighting for its own sake, too, but scorned to fight anything under his own weight; indeed, was long-suffering to public meanness with quarrelsome lesser dogs. Bob had no such weakness.

After much difficulty and change of masters, I bought him, I am ashamed to say, for five pounds, and brought him home. He had been chained for months, was in high health and spirits, and the surplus power and activity of this great creature, as he dragged me and my son along the road, giving battle to every dog he met, was something appalling.

I very soon found I could not keep him. He worried the pet dogs all around, and got me into much trouble. So I gave him as night-watchman to a goldsmith in Princess Street. This work he did famously. I once, in passing at midnight, stopped at the shop and peered in at the little slip of glass, and by the gas-light I saw where he lay. I made a noise, and out came he with a roar and a bang as of a sledgehammer. I then called his name, and in an instant all was still except a quick tapping within that intimated the wagging of the tail. He is still there, —has settled down into a reputable, pacific citizen, — a good deal owing, perhaps, to the disappearance in battle of sundry of his best teeth. As he lies in the sun before the shop door he looks somehow like the old Fighting Temeraire.

I never saw a dog of the same breed; he is a sort of rough cob of a dog, — a huge quantity of terrier in one skin; for he has all the fun and briskness and failings and ways of a small dog, begging and hopping as only it does. Once his master took him to North Berwick. His first day he spent in careering about the sands and rocks and in the sea, for lie is a noble swimmer. His next lie devoted to worrying all the dogs of the town, beginning, for convenience, with the biggest.

This aroused the citizens, and their fury was brought to a focus on the third day by its being reported aIternatively that he had torn a child's ear off, or torn and actually eaten it. Up rose the town as one man, and the women each as two, and, headed by Matthew Cathie, the one-eyed and excellent shoemaker, with a tall, raw divinity student, knock-kneed and six feet two, who was his lodger, and was of course called young Dominic Sampson, they bore down upon Bob and his master, who were walking calmly on the shore.

Bob was for making a stand, after the manner of Coriolanus, and banishing by instant assault the 94 common cry of curs;" but his master saw sundry guns and pistols, not to speak of an old harpoon, and took to his heels, as the only way of getting Bob to take to his. Aurifex, with much noes, made for the police station, and, with the assistance of the constables and half a crown, got Thalaba locked up for the night, safe and sulky.

Next morning, Sunday, when Cathie and his huge student lay uneasily asleep, dreaming of vengeance, and the early dawn was beautiful upon the Bass, with its snowy cloud of sea-birds "brooding on the charm4d wave," Bob was hurried up to the station, locked into a horse-box, — him never shall that ancient Burgh forget or see.

I have a notion that dogs have humor, and are perceptive of a joke. In the North, a shepherd, having sold his sheep at a market, was asked by the buyer to lend him his dog to take them home. "By a' manner o' means tak Birkie, and when ye 'r dune wi' him just play so "(making a movement with his arm)," and he "be name in a jiffy." Birkie was so clever and useful and gay that the borrower coveted him; and on getting to his farm shut him up, intending to keep him. Birkie escaped during the night, and took the entire hirsel (flock) back to his own master! Fancy him trotting across the moor with them, they as willing as he.


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