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- GREYFRIARS BOB - 35/35 -
increased by the admiration that had been lavished on him for years by the general public. Now, as he afterward confessed to Mr. Brown:
"Her leddyship made me feel I'd done naething by the ordinar', but maistly to please my ainsel'. Eh, man, she made me sing sma'."
When the collie had finished drinking, he looked up gratefully, rubbed against the good Samaritans, waved his plumed tail like a banner, and trotted away. After a thoughtful moment Lady Burdett-Coutts said:
"The suitable memorial here, Mr. Traill, is a fountain, with a low basin level with the curb, and a higher one, and Bobby sitting on an altar-topped central column above, looking through the kirkyard gate. It shall be his mission to bring men and small animals together in sympathy by offering to both the cup of cold water."
She was there once again that year. On her way north she stopped in Edinburgh over night to see how the work on the fountain had progressed. It was in Scotland's best season, most of the days dry and bright and sharp. But on that day it was misting, and yellow leaves were dropping on the wet tombs and beaded grass, when the Grand Leddy appeared at the kirkyard late in the afternoon with a wreath of laurel to lay on Auld Jock's grave.
Bobby slipped out, dry as his own delectable bone, from under the tomb of Mistress Jean Grant, and nearly wagged his tail off with pleasure. Mistress Jeanie was set in a proud flutter when the Grand Leddy rang at the lodge kitchen and asked if she and Bobby could have their tea there with the old couple by the cozy grate fire.
They all drank tea from the best blue cups, and ate buttered scones and strawberry jam on the scoured deal table. Bobby had his porridge and broth on the hearth. The coals snapped in the grate and the firelight danced merrily on the skylark's cage and the copper kettle. Mr. Brown got out his fife and played "Bonnie Dundee." Wee, silver-white Bobby tried to dance, but he tumbled over so lamentably once or twice that he hung his head apologetically, admitting that he ought to have the sense to know that his dancing days were done. He lay down and lolled and blinked on the hearth until the Grand Leddy rose to go.
"I am on my way to Braemar to visit for a few days at Balmoral Castle. I wish I could take Bobby with me to show him to the dear Queen."
"Preserve me!" cried Mistress Jeanie, and Mr. Brown's pet pipe was in fragments on the hearth.
Bobby leaped upon her and whimpered, saying "Dinna gang, Leddy!" as plainly as a little dog could say anything. He showed the pathos at parting with one he was fond of, now, that an old and affectionate person shows. He clung to her gown, rubbed his rough head under her hand, and trotted disconsolately beside her to her waiting carriage. At the very last she said, sadly:
"The Queen will have to come to Edinburgh to see Bobby."
"The bonny wee wad be a prood doggie, yer Leddyship," Mistress Jeanie managed to stammer, but Mr. Brown was beyond speech.
The Grand Leddy said nothing. She looked at the foundation work of Bobby's memorial fountain, swathed in canvas against the winter, and waiting--waiting for the spring, when the waters of the earth should be unsealed again; waiting until finis could be written to a story on a bronze table-tomb; waiting for the effigy of a shaggy Skye terrier to be cast and set up; waiting--
When the Queen came to see Bobby it was unlikely that he would know anything about it.
He would know nothing of the crowds to gather there on a public occasion, massing on the bridge, in Greyfriars Place, in broad Chambers Street, and down Candlemakers Row--the magistrates and Burgh council, professors and students from the University, soldiers from the Castle, the neighboring nobility in carriages, farmers and shepherds from the Pentlands, the Heriot laddies marching from the school, and the tenement children in holiday duddies--all to honor the memory of a devoted little dog. He would know nothing of the military music and flowers, the prayer of the minister of Greyfriars auld kirk, the speech of the Lord Provost; nothing of the happy tears of the Grand Leddy when a veil should fall away from a little bronze dog that gazed wistfully through the kirkyard gate, and water gush forth for the refreshment of men and animals.
"Good-by, good-by, good-by, Bobby; most loving and lovable, darlingest wee dog in the world!" she cried, and a shower of bright drops and sweet little sounds fell on Bobby's tousled head. Then the carriage of the Grand Leddy rolled away in the rainy dusk.
The hour-bell of St. Giles was rung, and the sunset bugle blown in the Castle. It took Mr. Brown a long time to lift the wicket, close the tall leaves and lock the gate. The wind was rising, and the air hardening. One after one the gas lamps flared in the gusts that blew on the bridge. The huge bulk of shadow lay, velvet black, in the drenched quarry pit of the Grassmarket. The caretaker's voice was husky with a sudden "cauld in 'is heid."
"Ye're an auld dog, Bobby, an' ye canna deny it. Ye'll juist hae to sleep i' the hoose the misty nicht."
Loath to part with them, Bobby went up to the lodge with the old couple and saw them within the cheerful kitchen. But when the door was held open for him, he wagged his tail in farewell and trotted away around the kirk. All the concession he was willing to make to old age and bad weather was to sleep under the fallen table-tomb.
Greyfriars on a dripping autumn evening! A pensive hour and season, everything memorable brooded there. Crouched back in shadowy ranks, the old tombs were draped in mystery. The mist was swirled by the wind and smoke smeared out, over their dim shapes. Where families sat close about scant suppers, the lights of candles and cruisey lamps were blurred. The faintest halo hung above the Castle head. Infrequent footsteps hurried by the gate. There was the rattle of a belated cart, the ring of a distant church bell. But even on such nights the casements were opened and little faces looked into the melancholy kirkyard. Candles glimmered for a moment on the murk, and sweetly and clearly the tenement bairns called down:
"A gude nicht to ye, Bobby."
They could not see the little dog, but they knew he was there. They knew now that he would still be there when they could see him no more--his body a part of the soil, his memory a part of all that was held dear and imperishable in that old garden of souls. They could go up to the lodge and look at his famous collar, and they would have his image in bronze on the fountain. And sometime, when the mysterious door opened for them, they might see Bobby again, a sonsie doggie running on the green pastures and beside the still waters, at the heels of his shepherd master, for:
If there is not more love in this world than there is room for in God's heaven, Bobby would just have "gaen awa' hame."
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