RAB AND HIS FRIENDS





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

action.



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

shot.



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

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 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

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, "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

dawtie!"



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

bosom.



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 Græme, 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 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

stable.



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.





QUERCUS ALBA'S NEW SIGHT OF THE UPPER-WORLD RAGGYLUG facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback