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- Bob Son of Battle - 48/48 -


Then Bessie, watching fearfully, saw him bend, sling the great body on his back, and stagger away.

Limp and hideous, the carcase hung down from the little man's shoulders. The huge head, with grim, wide eyes and lolling tongue, jolted and swagged with the motion, seeming to grin a ghastly defiance at the world it had left. And the last Bessie saw of them was that bloody, rolling head, with the puny legs staggering beneath their load, as the two passed out of the world's ken.

In the Devil's Bowl, next day, they found the pair: Adam M'Adam and his Red Wull, face to face; dead, not divided; each, save for the other, alone. The dog, his saturnine expression glazed and ghastly in the fixedness of death, propped up against that humpbacked boulder beneath which, a while before, the Black Killer had dreed his weird; and, close by, his master lying on his back, his dim dead eyes staring up at the heaven, one hand still clasping a crumpled photograph; the weary body at rest at last, the mocking face--mocking no longer--alight with a whole-souled, transfiguring happiness.

POSTSCRIPT

Adam M'Adam and his Red Wull lie buried together: one just within, the other just without, the consecrated pale.

The only mourners at the funeral were David, James Moore, Maggie, and a gray dog peering through the lych-gate.

During the service a carriage stopped at the churchyard, and a lady with a stately figure and a gentle face stepped out and came across the grass to pay a last tribute to the dead. And Lady Eleanour, as she joined the little group about the grave, seemed to notice a more than usual solemnity in the parson's voice as he intoned: "Earth to earth--ashes to ashes-dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life."

When you wander in the gray hill-country of the North, in the loneliest corner of that lonely land you may chance upon a low farm-house, lying in the shadow of the Muir Pike.

Entering, a tall old man comes out to greet you--the Master of Kenmuir. His shoulders are bent now; the hair that was so dark is frosted; but the blue-gray eyes look you as-proudly in the face as of yore.

And while the girl with the glory of yellow hair is preparing food for you--they are hospitable to a fault, these Northerners--you will notice on the mantelpiece, standing solitary, a massive silver cup, dented.

That is the world-known Shepherds' Trophy, won outright, as the old man will tell you, by Owd Bob, last and best of the Gray Dogs of Kenmuir. The last because he is the best;, because once, for a long-drawn unit of time, James Moore had thought him to be the worst.

When at length you take your leave, the old man accompanies you to the top of the slope to point you your way.

"Yo' cross the stream; over Langholm How,. yonder; past the Bottom; and oop th' hill on far side. Yo'll come on th' house o' top. And happen yo'll meet Th' Owd Un on the road. Good-day to you, sir, good-day."

So you go as he has bidden you; across the stream, skirting the How, over the gulf and up. the hill again.

On the way, as the Master has foretold, you come upon an old gray dog, trotting soberly along. Th' Owd Un, indeed, seems to spend the evening of his life going thus between Kenmuir and the Grange. The black muzzle, is almost white now; the gait, formerly so smooth and strong, is stiff and slow; venerable, indeed, is he of whom men still talk as the best sheep-dog in the North.

As he passes, he pauses to scan you. The noble head is high, and one foot raised; and you look into two big gray eyes such as you have never seen before--soft, a little dim, and infinitely sad.

That is Owd Bob o' Kenmuir, of whom the tales are many as the flowers on the May. With him dies the last of the immortal line of the Gray Dogs of Kennutir.

You travel on up the bill, something pensive, and knock at the door of the house on the top.

A woman, comely with the inevitable comeliness of motherhood, opens to you. And nestling in her arms is a little boy with golden hair and happy face, like one of Correggio's cherubs.

You ask the child his name. He kicks and crows, and looks up at his mother; and in the end lisps roguishly, as if it was the merriest joke in all this merry world, "Adum Mataddum."


Bob Son of Battle - 48/48

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