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- GREYFRIARS BOB - 10/35 -
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 confidently, 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 marketday 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 awa', Bobby."
Bobby looked up, but, as he made no motion to obey, Mr. Traill stooped and lifted him.
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' ye, 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 accusation.
"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 principle 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 one 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 corner 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 Burns 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 and speculations.
"You'll stop that dog's cleaving noise, Mr. Traill, or I'll appeal to the Burgh police."
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-like 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 quick 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 footstaps, 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
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