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from Types Of Children's Literature - Animal Sketches And Stories

John Brown

Four-and-thirty years ago, Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary
Street from the High School, our heads together, and our arms
intertwisted, 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 in

Does any curious and finely-ignorant woman wish to know how Bob's eye
at a glance announced a dog-fight to his brain? He did not, he could
not see the dogs fighting; it was a flash of an inference, a rapid
induction. The crowd round a couple of dogs fighting, 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

Still the Chicken holds; death not far off. "Snuff! a pinch of snuff!"
observed a calm, highly-dressed young buck, with an eyeglass in his
eye. "Snuff, indeed!" growled the angry crowd, affronted and glaring.
"Snuff, a pinch of snuff!" again observes 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 amende, 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 Shakespearian dewlaps shaking as he goes.

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 homemade
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 Aberdeen granite.

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 Inn.

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, ma 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 of course 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

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 Rab, with that great and easy saunter of
his. He 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 thinkin'."

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 her feet.

I never saw a more unforgetable face--pale, serious, _lonely_

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 brows, they say,
Become some women best, so that there be not
Too much hair there, _but in a semicircle,
Or a half-moon made with a pen."
--A Winter's Tale_

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 eyeing 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 center 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 slunk 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 brindle, 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 long, 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 swiftest.

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 Caesar or the Duke of Wellington, and had the
gravity [Footnote: 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. [Footnote:
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
somber, 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?" "Tomorrow," 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. _Clerk_."

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 theater 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-capt, 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 aboot
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 somber 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

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, "Oor Ailie's skin's ower 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 wasn'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, a 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 "fremyt"
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
meter, chanting the latter in his own rude and serious way, showing
great knowledge of the fit words, bearing up like a man, and doting
over her as his "ain Ailie." "Ailie, ma woman!" "Ma ain bonnie wee

The end was drawing on: the golden bowl was breaking; the silver cord
was fast being loosed--that _animula, blandula, vagula, 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

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 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 table.

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 fore!"

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 downstairs 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
statu 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 Grĉme, 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

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 downstairs, 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 Lammermuirs,
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 watching the
proceedings 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 at 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's
_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 didna exactly dee; he was
killed. I had to brain him wi' a rack-pin; there was nae doin' wi' him.
He lay in the treviss wi' the mear, and wadna come oot. I tempit him
wi' kail and meat, but he wad tak' 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 mak' awa wi' the auld dowg, his like wasna 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?

He was buried in the braeface, near the burn, the children of the
village, his companions, who used to make very free with him and sit on
his ample stomach, as he lay half asleep at the door in the sun,
watching the solemnity.



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