FIFTEEN minutes after the report of the time-gun on Monday,
when the bells were playing their merriest and the dining-rooms were
busiest, Mr. Traill felt such a tiny tug at his trouser-leg that it was
repeated before he gave it attention. In the press of hungry guests Bobby
had little more than room to rise in his pretty, begging attitude. The
landlord was so relieved to see him again, after five conscience-stricken
days, that he stooped to clap the little dog on the side and to greet him
with jocose approval.
“Gude dog to fetch Auld Jock—”
With a faint and piteous cry that was heard by no one but Mr. Traill, Bobby
toppled over on the floor. It was a limp little bundle that the landlord
picked up from under foot and held on his arm a moment, while he looked
around for the dog’s master. Shocked at not seeing Auld Jock, by a kind of
inspiration he carried the little dog to the inglenook and laid him down
under the familiar settle. Bobby was little more than breathing, but he
opened his silkily veiled brown eyes and licked the friendly hand that had
done him this refinement of kindness. It took Mr. Traill more than a moment
to realize the nature of the trouble. A dog with so thick a fleece of wool,
under so crisply waving an outer coat as Bobby’s, may perish for lack of
food and show no outward sign of emaciation.
“The sonsie, wee—why, he’s all but starved!”
Pale with pity, Mr. Traill snatched a plate of broth from the hands of a
gaping waiter laddie, set it under Bobby’s nose, and watched him begin to
lap the warm liquid eagerly. In the busy place the incident passed
unnoticed. With his usual, brisk decision Mr. Traill turned the backs of a
couple of chairs over against the nearest table, to signify that the comer
was reserved, and he went about his duties with unwonted silence. As the
crowd thinned he returned to the ingle-nook to find Bobby asleep, not curled
up in a tousled ball, as such a little dog should be, but stretched on his
side and breathing irregularly.
If Bobby was in such straits, how must it be with Auld Jock? This was the
fifth day since the sick old man had fled into the storm. With new disquiet
Mr. Traill remembered a matter that had annoyed him in the morning, and that
he had been inclined to charge to mischievous Heriot boys. Low down on the
outside of his freshly varnished entrance door were many scratches that
Bobby could have made. He may have come for food on the Sabbath day when the
place was closed.
After an hour Bobby woke long enough to eat a generous plate of that
delectable and highly nourishing Scotch dish known as haggis. He fell asleep
again in an easier attitude that relieved the tension on the landlord’s
feelings. Confident that the devoted little dog would lead him straight to
his master, Mr. Traill closed the door securely, that he might not escape
unnoticed, and arranged his own worldly affairs so he could leave them to
hirelings on the instant. In the idle time between dinner and supper he sat
down by the fire, lighted his pipe, repented his unruly tongue, and waited.
As the short day darkened to its close the sunset bugle was blown in the
Castle. At the first note Bobby crept from under the settle, a little
unsteady on his legs as yet, wagged his tail for thanks, and trotted to the
Mr. Traill had no trouble at all in keeping the little dog in sight to the
kirkyard gate, for in the dusk his coat shone silvery white. Indeed, by a
backward look now and then, Bobby seemed to invite the man to follow, and
waited at the gate, with some impatience, for him to come up. Help was
needed there. By rising and tugging at Mr. Traill's clothing and then
jumping on the wicket Bobby plainly begged to have it opened. He made no
noise, neither barking nor whimpering, and that was very strange for a dog
of the terrier breed; but each instant of delay he became more insistent,
and even frantic, to have the gate unlatched. Mr. Traill refused to believe
what Bobby’s behavior indicated, and rep oved him in the broad Scotch to
which the country dog was used.
“Nae, Bobby; be a gude dog. Gang doon to the Coogate noo, an' find Auld
Uttering no cry at all, Bobby gave the man such a woebegone look and dropped
to the pavement, with his long muzzle as far under the wicket as he could
thrust it, that the truth shot home to Mr. Traill’s understanding. He opened
the gate. Bobby slipped through and stood just inside a moment, and looking
back as if he expected his human friend to follow. Then, very suddenly, as
the door of the lodge opened and the caretaker came out, Bobby disappeared
in the shadow of the church.
A big-boned, slow-moving man of the best country-house-gardener type,
serviceably dressed in corduroy, wool bonnet, and ribbed stockings,
James Brown collided with the small and wiry landlord, to his own very great
“Eh, Maister Traill, ye gied me a turn. It’s no' canny to be proolin' aboot
the kirkyaird i' the gloamin’.”
“Whaur did the bit dog go, man?” demanded the peremptory landlord.
"Dog? There’s no' ony dog i' the kirkyaird. It isna permeetted. Gin it’s a
pussy ye’re needin’, noo—”
But Mr. Traill brushed this irrelevant pleasantry aside.
“Ay, there’s a dog. I let him in my ainsel;” The caretaker exploded with
wrath: “Syne I’ll hae the law on ye. Can ye no’ read, man?” “Tut, tut,
Jeemes Brown. Don’t stand there arguing. It’s a gude and necessary
regulation, but it’s no’ the law o’ the land. I turned the dog in to settle
a matter with my ain conscience, and John Knox would have done the same
thing in the bonny face o' Queen Mary. What it is, is nae beesiness of
yours. The dog was a sma' young terrier of the Highland breed, but with a
drop to his ears and a crinkle in his frosty coat— no’ just an ordinar' dog.
I know him weel. He came to my place to be fed, near dead of hunger, then
led me here. If his master lies in this kirkyard I'll tak' the bit dog awa'
Mr. Traill’s astonishing fluency always carried all walls of
resistance before it with men of slower wit and speech. Only a superior man
could brush time-honored rules aside so curtly and stand on his human rights
so surely. James Brown pulled his bonnet off deferentially, scratched his
shock head and shifted his pipe. Finally he admitted:
“Weel, there was a bit tyke i’ the kirkyaird twa days syne. I put 'im oot,
an’ haena seen ’im aboot ony mair.” He offered, however, to show the
new-made mound on which he had found the dog. Leading the way past the
church, he went on down the terraced slope, prolonging the walk with
conversation, for the guardianship of an old churchyard offers very little
such lively company as John Traill’s.
“I mind, noo, it was some puir body frae the Coogate, wi’ no’ ony mourners
but the sma’ terrier aneath the coffin. I let ’im pass, no’ to mak’ a
disturbance at a buryin’. The deal box was fetched up by the police, an’
carried by sic a crew o’ gaol-birds as wad mak’ ye turn ower in yer ain
God’s hole. But he paid for his buryin’ wi’ his ain siller, an’ noo lies as
canny as the nobeelity, nae doot. Here’s the place, Maister Traill; an’ ye
can see for yer ainsel’ there’s no' ony dog.”
“Ay, that would be Auld Jock and Bobby would no' be leaving him,” insisted
the landlord, stubbornly. He stood looking down at the rough mound of frozen
clods heaped in a little space of trampled snow.
“Jeemes Brown,” Mr. Trail said, at last, “the man wha lies here was a
decent, pious auld country body, and I drove him to his meeserable death in
"Man, ye dinna ken what ye're sayin’!” was the shocked response.
"Do I no'? I’m canny, by the ordinar', but my fule tongue will get me into
trouble with the magistrates one of these days. It aye wags at both ends,
and is no’ tied in the middle.”
Then, stanch Calvinist that he was, and never dreaming that he was indulging
in the sinful pleasure of confession, Mr. Traill poured out the story of
Auld Jock’s plight and of his own shortcomings. It was a bitter, upbraiding
thing that he, an uncommonly capable man, had meant so well by a humble old
body, and done so ill. And he had failed again when he tried to tjndo the
mischief. The very next morning he had gone down into the perilous Cowgate,
and inquired in every place where it might be possible for such a timid old
shepherd to be known. But there! As well look for a burr thistle in a bin of
oats, as look for a human atom in the Cowgate and the wynds “juist aff.”
“Weel, noo, ye couldna hae dime aething wi' the auld body, ava, gin he
wouldna gang to the infairmary.” The caretaker was trying to console the
“Could I no’? Ye dinna ken me as weel as ye micht.” The disgusted landlord
tumbled into broad Scotch. “Gie me to do it ance mair, an’ I’d chairge Auld
Jock wi’ thievin’ ma siller, wi’ a wink o’ the ee at the police to mak’ them
ken I was leein’; an’ syne they’d hae hustled ’im aff, willy-nilly, to a
The energetic little man looked so entirely capable of any daring deed that
he fired the caretaker into enthusiastic search for Bobby. It was not
entirely dark, for the sky was studded with stars, snow lay in broad patches
on the slope, and all about the lower end of the kirkyard supper candles
burned at every rear window of the tall tenements.
The two men searched among the near-by slabs and table-tombs and scattered
thorn bushes. They circled the monument to all the martyrs who had died
heroically, in the Grassmarket and elsewhere, for their faith. They hunted
in the deep shadows of the buttresses along the side of the auld kirk and
among the pillars of the octag-6 69 onal portico to the new. At the rear of
the long, low building, that was clumsily partitioned across for two
pulpits, stood the ornate tomb of “Bluidy” McKenzie. But Bobby had not
committed himself to the mercy of the hanging judge, nor yet to the care of
the doughty minister who, from the pulpit of Greyfriars auld kirk, had flung
the blood and tear stained Covenant in the teeth of persecution.
The search was continued past the modest Scott family burial plot and on to
the west wall. There was a broad outlook over Heriot’s Hospital grounds, a
smooth and shining expanse of unsullied snow about the early Elizabethan
pile of buildings. Returning, they skirted the lowest wall below the
tenements, for in the circling line of court yarded vaults, where the
“nobeelity” of Scotland lay haughtily apart under time-stained marbles, were
many shadowy nooks in which so small a dog could stow himself away. Skulking
cats were flushed there, and sent flying over aristocratic bones, but there
was no trace of Bobby.
The second tier of windows of the tenements was level with the kirkyard
wall, and several times Mr. Traill called up to a lighted casement where a
family sat at a scant supper:
“Have you seen a bit dog, man?”
There was much cordial interest in his quest, windows opening and faces
staring into the dusk but not until near the top of the Row was a clue
gained. Then, at the query, an unkempt, ill-clad lassie slipped from her
stool and leaned out over the pediment of a tomb. She had seen a “wee, wee
doggie jinkin' amang the stanes.” It was on the Sabbath evening, when the
well-dressed folk had gone home from the afternoon services. She was eating
her porridge at the window, “by her lane," when he “keeked up at her so
knowing, and begged so bonny," that she balanced her bit bowl on a lath, and
pushed it over on the kirkyard wall. As she finished the story the big, blue
eyes of the little maid, who doubtless had herself known what it was to be
hungry, filled with tears.
“The wee tyke couldna loup up to it, an' a deil o' a pussy got it a’. He was
so bonny, like a leddy’s pet, an' syne he fell ower on the snaw an' creepit
awa’. He didna cry oot, but he was a' but deid wi’ hunger." At the memory of
it soft-hearted Ailie Lindsey sobbed on her mother's shoulder.
The tale was retold from one excited window to another, all the way around
and all the way up to the gables, so quickly could some incident of human
interest make a social gathering in the populous tenements. Most of ail, the
children seized upon the touching story. Eager and pinched little faces
peered wistfully into the melancholy kirkyard.
“Is he yer ain dog?” crippled Tammy Barr piped out, in his thin treble. “Gin
I had a bonny wee dog I’d gie ’im ma ain brose, an* cuddle ’im, an’ he
couldna gang awa’.”
“Nae, laddie, he’s no’ my dog. His master lies buried here, and the leal
Highlander mourns for him.” With keener appreciation of its pathos Mr.
Traill recalled that this was what Auld Jock had said: “Bobby isna ma ain
dog.” And he was conscious of wishing that Bobby was his own, with his
unpurchasable love and a loyalty to face starvation. As he mounted the
turfed terraces he thought to call back:
“If you see him again, lassie, call him ‘Bobby' and fetch him up to
Greyfriars Dining-Rooms. I have a bright siller shulling, with the Queen’s
bonny face on it, to give the bairn that finds Bobby.”
There was excited comment on this. He must, indeed, be an attractive dog to
be worth a shulling. The children generously shared plans for capturing
Bobby. But presently the windows were closed, and supper was resumed. The
caretaker was irritable.
“Noo, ye'll hae them a' oot swarmin' ower the kirkyaird. There’s nae coontin'
the bairns o1 the neeborhood, an' nane o' them are so weel broucht up as
they micht be."
Mr. Traill commented upon this philosophically: “A bairn is like a dog in
mony ways. Tak' a stick to one or the other and he’ll misbehave. The
children here are poor and neglected, but they’re no' vicious like the awfu'
imps of the Cowgate, wha'd steal from their blind grandmithers. Get on the
gude side of the bairns, man, and you’ll live easier and die happier."
It seemed useless to search the much longer arm of the kirkyard that ran
southward behind the shops of Greyfriars Place and Forest Road. If Bobby was
in the inclosure at all he would not be far from Auld Jock’s grave. Nearest
the new-made mound were two very old and dark table-tombs. The farther one
lay horizontally, on its upright “through stanes," some distance above the
earth. The supports of the other had fallen, and the table lay on their
thickness within six inches of the ground. Mr. Traill and the caretaker sat
upon this slab, which testified to the piety and worth of one Mistress Jean
Grant, Who had died “lang syne."
Encroached upon, as it was, by unlovely life, Greyfriars kirkyard was yet a
place of solitude and peace. The building had the dignity that only old age
can give. It had lost its tower by an explosion of gunpowder stored there in
war time, and its walls and many of the ancient tombs bore the marks of fire
and shot. Within the last decade some of the Gothic openings had been filled
with beautiful memorial windows. Despite the horrors and absurdities and
mutilation of much of the funeral sculpturing, the kirkyard had a sad
distinction, such as became its fame as Scotland’s Westminster. And there
was one heavenward outlook and heavenly view. Over the tallest decaying
tenement one could look up to the Castle of dreams on the crag, and drop the
glance all the way down the pinnacled crest of High Street, to the dark and
deserted Palace of Holyrood. After nightfall the tur-reted heights wore a
luminous crown, and the steep ridge up to it twinkled with myriad lights.
After a time the caretaker offered a well-considered opinion.
“The dog maun hae left the kirkyaird. Thae terriers are aye barkin’. It’d be
maist michty noo, gin he’d be so lang i’ the kirkyaird, an’ no’ mak’ a
As a man of superior knowledge Mr. Traill found pleasure in upsetting this
theory. “The Highland breed are no* like ordinar’ terriers. Noisy enough to
deave one, by nature, give a bit Skye a reason and he'll lie a' the day
under a whin bush on the brae, as canny as a fox. You gave Bobby a reason
for hiding here bv turning him out. And Auld Jock was a vera releegious man.
It would no' be surprising if he taught Bobby to hold his tongue in a
kirkyard.” “Man, he did that vera thing.” James Brown brought his fist down
on his knee; for suddenly he identified Bobby as the snappy little ruffian
that had chased the cat and bitten his shins, and Auld Jock as the
scandalized shepherd who had rebuked the dog so bitterly. He related the
incident with gusto.
“The auld man cried oot on the misbehavin' tyke to haud 'is gab. Syne, ye
ne'er saw the bit dog’s like for a bairn that'd haen a lickin'. He'd ’a'
gaen into a pit, gin there'd been ane, an' pu’d it in ahind 'im. I turned 'em
baith oot, an' told 'em no' to come back. Eh, man, it's fearsome hoo ilka
body comes to a kirkyaird, toes afore 'im, in a long box.”
Mr. Brown was sobered by this grim thought and then, in his turn, he
confessed a slip to this tolerant man of the world. “The wee deil o' a
sperity dog nipped me so I let oot an aith.”
“Ay, that's Bobby. He would no' be afraid of onything with hide or hair on
it. Man, the Skye terriers go into dens of foxes and wildcats, and worry
bulls till they tak’ to their heels. And Bobby's sagacious by the ordinar’.”
He thought intently for a moment, and then spoke naturally, and much as Auld
Jock himself might have spoken to the dog.
“Whaur are ye, Bobby? Come awa' oot, laddie!”
Instantly the little dog stood before him like some conjured ghost. He had
slipped from under the slab on which they were sitting. It lay so near the
ground, and in such a mat of dead grass, that it had not occurred to them to
look for him there. He came up to Mr. Traill confidingly, submitted to
having his head patted, and looked pleadingly at the caretaker. Then,
thinking he had permission to do so, he lay down on the mound. James Brown
dropped his pipe.
“It’s maist michty!” he said.
Mr. Traill got to his feet briskly. “I’ll just tak* the dog with me, Mr.
Brown. On market-day I’ll find the farmer that owns him and send him hame.
As you say, a kirkyard’s nae place for a dog to be living neglected. Come
Bobby looked up, but, as he made no motion to obey, Mr. Traill stooped and
From sheer surprise at this unexpected move the little dog lay still a
moment on the man's arm. Then, with a lithe twist of his muscular body and a
spring, he was on the ground, trembling, reproachful for the breach of
faith, but braced for resistance.
“Eh, you’re no' going?” Mr. Traill put his hands in his pockets, looked down
at Bobby admiringly, and sighed. “There’s a dog after my ain heart, and
he’ll have naething to do with me. He has a mind of his ain. I’ll just have
to be leaving him here the two days, Mr. Brown.”
“Ye wullna leave 'im! Ye’ll tak' 'im wi' yer or I'll hae to put 'im oot.
Man, I couldna haud the place gin I brak the rules.”
“You—will—no'— put—the—wee—dog— out!” Mr. Traill shook a playful, emphatic
finger under the big man's nose.
“Why wull I no'?”
“Because, man, you have a vera soft heart, and you canna deny it.” It was
with a genial, confident smile that Mr. Traill made this terrible
“Ma heart’s no' so saft as to permit a bit dog to scandalize the deid.”
“He's been here two days, you no' knowing it, and he has scandalized neither
the dead nor the living. He's as leal as ony Covenanter here, and better
conducted than mony a laird. He's no* the quarrelsome kind, but, man, for a
preenciple he’d fight like auld Clootie.” Here the landlord’s heat gave way
to pure enjoyment of the situation. “Eh, I’d like to see you put him out. It
would be another Flodden Field.”
The angry caretaker shrugged his broad shoulders.
“Ye can see it, gin ye stand by, in juist ane meenit. Fecht as he may, it
wull soon be ower.” Mr. Traill laughed easily, and ventured the opinion that
Mr. Brown’s bark was worse than his bite. As he went through the gateway he
could not resist calling back a challenge: “I daur you to do it.”
Mr. Brown locked the gate, went sulkily into the lodge, lighted his cutty
pipe, and smoked it furiously. He read a Psalm with deliberation, poked up
an already bright fire, and glowered at his placid gude wife. It was not to
be borne— to be defied by a ten-inch-high terrier, and dared, by a man a
third under his own weight, to do his duty. After an hour or so he worked
himself up to the point of going out and slamming the door.
At eight o'clock Mr. Traill found Bobby on the pavement outside the locked
gate. He was not sorry that the fortunes of unequal battle had thrown the
faithful little dog on his hospitality. Bobby begged piteously to be put
inside, but he seemed to understand at last that the gate was too high for
Mr. Traill to drop him over. He followed the landlord up to the restaurant
willingly. He may have thought this champion had another solution of the
difficulty, for when he saw the man settle comfortably in a chair he refused
to lie on the hearth. He ran to the door and back, and begged and whined to
be let out. For a long time he stood dejectedly. He was not sullen, for he
ate a light supper and thanked his host with much polite wagging, and he
even allowed himself to be petted. Suddenly he thought of something, trotted
briskly off to a comer and crouched there.
Mr. Traill watched the attractive little creature with interest and growing
affection. Very likely he indulged in a day-dream that, perhaps, the tenant
of Cauldbrae farm could be induced to part with Bobby for a consideration,
and that he himself could win the dog to transfer his love from a cold grave
to a warm hearth.
With a spring the rat was captured. A jerk of the long head and there was
proof of Bobby's prowess to lay at his good friend's feet. Made much of, and
in a position to ask fresh favors, the little dog was off to the door with
cheerful, staccato barks. His reasoning was as plain as print: “I hae done
ye a service, noo tak’ me back to the kirkyaird.”
Mr. Traill talked to him as he might have reasoned with a bright bairn.
Bobby listened patiently, but remained of the same mind. At last he moved
away, disappointed in this human person, discouraged, but undefeated in his
purpose. He lay down by the door. Mr. Traill watched him, for if any chance
late comer opened the door the masterless little dog would be out into the
perils of the street. Bobby knew what doors were for and, very likely,
expected some such release. He waited a long time patiently. Then he began
to run back and forth. He put his paws upon Mr. Traill and whimpered and
cried. Finally he howled.
It was a dreadful, dismal, heartbroken howl that echoed back from the walls.
He howled continuously, until the landlord, quite distracted, and concerned
about the peace of his neighbors, thrust Bobby into the dark scullery at the
rear, and bade him stop his noise. For fully ten minutes the dog was quiet.
He was probably engaged in exploring his new quarters to find an outlet.
Then he began to howl again. It was truly astonishing that so small a dog
could make so large a noise.
A battle was on between the endurance of the man and the persistence of the
terrier. Mr. Traill was speculating on which was likely to be victor in the
contest, when the front door was opened and the proprietor of the Book
Hunter's Stall put in a bare, bald head and the abstracted face of the
book-worm that is mildly amused.
“Have you tak'n to a dog at your time o' life, Mr. Traill?"
“Ay, man, and it would be all right if the bit dog would just tak' to me."
This pleasantry annoyed a good man who had small sense of humor, and he
remarked testily; “The barkin' disturbs my customers so they canna read."
The place was a resort for student laddies who had to be saving of candles.
“That's no' right," the landlord admitted, sympathetically. "Reading mak'th
a full man.' Eh, what a deeference to the warld if Robbie Bums had aye
preferred a book to a bottle." The bookseller refused to be beguiled from
his just cause of complaint into the flowery meads of literary reminiscences
“You’ll stop that dog's deaving noise, Mr. Traill, or I’ll appeal to the
The landlord returned a bland and child-like smile. “You'd be weel within
your legal rights to do it, neebor."
The door was shut with such a business-lika click that the situation
suddenly became serious. Bobby's vocal powers, however, gave no signs of
diminishing. Mr. Traill quieted the dog for a few moments by letting him
into the outer room, but the swiftness and energy with which he renewed his
attacks on the door, and on the man's will, showed plainly that the truce
was only temporary. He did not know what he meant to do except that he
certainly had no intention of abandoning the little dog. To gain time he put
on his hat and coat, picked Bobby up, and opened the door. The thought
occurred to him to try the gate at the upper end of the kirkyard or, that
failing, to get into Heriot’s Hospital grounds and put Bobby over the wall.
As he opened the door, however, he heard Geordie Ross’s whistle around the
bend in Forest Road.
“Hey, laddie!” he called. “Come awa’ in a meenit.” When the sturdy boy was
inside, and the door safely shut, he began in his most guileless and
persuasive tone: “Would you like to earn a shulling, Geordie?”
“Ay, I would. Gie it to me i’ pennies an' ha’pennies, Maister Traill. It
seems mair, an' mak's a braw jinglin' in a pocket.”
The price was paid and-the tale told. The t^uick championship of the boy was
engaged for the gallant dog, and Geordie’s eyes sparkled at the prospect of
dark adventure. Bobby was on the floor listening, ears and eyes, brambly
muzzle and feathered tail alert. He listened with his whole, small, excited
body, and hung on the answer to the momentous question.
“Is there no; a way to smuggle the bit dog into the kirkyard?”
It appeared that nothing was easier, “aince ye ken hoo.” Did Mr. Traill know
of the internal highway through the old Cunzie Neuk at the bottom of the
Row? One went up the stairs on the front to the low, timbered gallery, then
through a passage as black as “Bluidy” McKenzie’s heart. At the end of that
one came to a peep-hole of a window, set out on wooden brackets, that hung
right over the kirkyard wall. From that window Bobby could be dropped on a
certain noble vault, from which he could jump to the ground.
“Twa meenits’ wark, stout hearts, sleekit foot-staps, an’ the fearsome deed
is done,” declared twelve - year - old Geordie, whose sense of the dramatic
matched his daring.
But when the deed was done, and the two stood innocently on the brightly
lighted approach to the bridge, Mr. Traill had his misgivings. A
well-respected business man and church-member, he felt uneasy to be at the
mercy of a laddie who might be boastful.
“Geordie, if you tell onybody about this I'll have to give you a licking.”
"I wullna tell," Geordie reassured him. "It's no' so respectable, an’ syne
ma mither’d gie me anither lickin’, an' they’d gie me twa more awfu* anes,
an’ black marks for a month, at Heriot’s.”