Bob Son of Battle
Part 5 out of 5
dark-stained iron-gray wisps.
James Moore walked slowly over the battlefield, stooping down as
though he were gleaning. And gleaning he was.
A long time he bent so, and at length raised himself.
"The Killer has killed his last," he muttered; "Red Wull has run his
course." Then, turning to Andrew: "Run yo' home, lad, and fetch
the men to carry yon away," pointing to the carcass, "And Bob, lad,
yo 'ye done your work for to-day, and right well too; go yo' home
wi' him. I'm off to see to this!"
He turned and crossed the Stony Bottom. His face was set like a
rock. At length the proof was in his hand. Once and for all the
hill-country should be rid of its scourge.
As he stalked up the hill, a dark head appeared at his knee. Two
big grey eyes; half doubting, half penitent, wholly wistful, looked
up at him, and a silvery brush signalled a mute request.
"Eh, Owd Un, but yo' should ha' gone wi~ Andrew," the Master
said. "Hooiver, as yo~ are here, come along." And he strode away
up the hill, gaunt and menacing, with the gray dog at his heels.
As they approached the house, M'Adam was standing in the door,
sucking his eternal twig. James Moore eyed him closely as he
came, but the sour face framed in the door betrayed nothing.
Sarcasm, surprise, challenge, were all writ there, plain to read; but
no guilty consciousness of the other's errand, no storm of passion
to hide a failing heart. If it was acting it was splendidly done.
As man and dog passed through the gap in the hedge, the
expression on the little man's face changed again. He started
"James Moore, as I live!" he cried, and advanced with both hands
extended, as though welcoming a long-lost brother. "'Deed and it's
a weary while sin' ye've honored ma puir hoose." And, in fact, it
was nigh twenty years. "I tak' it gey kind in ye to look in on a
lonely auld man. Come ben and let's ha' a crack. James Moore
kens weel hoo welcome he aye is in ma bit biggin'."
The Master ignored the greeting.
"One o' ma sheep been killed back o' t' Dyke," he announced
shortly, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.
The cordiality beaming in every wrinkle of the little man's face
was absorbed in a wondering interest; and that again gave place to
"Dear, dear! it's come to that, has it--at last?" he said gently, and
his eyes wandered to the gray dog and dwelt mournfully upon him.
"Man, I'm sorry--I canna tell ye I'm surprised. Masel', I kent it all
alang. But gin Adam M'Adam had tell't ye, no ha' believed him.
Weel, weel, he's lived his life, gin ony dog iver did; and noo he
maun gang where he's sent a many before him. Puir mon! puir
tyke!" He heaved a sigh, profoundly melancholy, tenderly
sympathetic. Then, brightening up a little: "Ye'll ha' come for the
James Moore listened to this harangue at first puzzled. Then he
caught the other's meaning, and his eyes flashed. 305
"Ye fool, M'Adarn! did ye hear iver tell o' a sheep-dog worryin' his
The little man was smiling and suave again now, rubbing his hands
"Ye're right, I never did. But your dog is not as ither dogs--'There's
none like him-- none,' I've heard ye say so yersel, mony a time. An'
I'm wi' ye. There's none like him--for devilment." His voice began
to quiver and his face to blaze. "It's his cursed cunning that's
deceived ivery one but me-- whelp o' Satan that he is!" He
shouldered up to his tall adversary. "If not him, wha else had done
it?" he asked, looking, up into the other's face as if daring him to
The Master's shaggy eyebrows lowered. He towered above the
other like the Muir Pike above its surrounding hills.
"Wha, ye ask?" he replied coldly, "and I answer you. Your Red
Wull, M'Adam, your Red Wull. It's your Wull's the Black Killer!
It's your Wull's bin the plague o' the land these months past! It's
your Wull's killed ma sheep back o'yon!"
At that all the little man's affected goodhumor fled.
"Ye lee, mon! ye lee!" he cried in a dreadful scream, dancing up to
his antagonist. "I knoo hoo 'twad be. I said so. I see what ye're at.
Ye've found at last--blind that ye've been!--that it's yer am hell's
tyke that's the Killer; and noo ye think by yer leein' impitations to
throw the blame on ma Wullie. Ye rob me o' ma Cup, ye rob me o'
ma son, ye wrang me in ilka thing; there's but ae thing left
me--Wullie. And noo ye're set on takin' him awa'. But ye shall
not--I'll kill ye first!"
He was all a-shake, bobbing up and down like a stopper in a
soda-water bottle, and almost sobbing.
"Ha' ye no wranged me enough wi' oo that? Ye lang-leggit liar, wi'
yer skulkin murderin' tyke!" he cried. "Ye say it's Wullie. Where's
yer proof? "--and he snapped his fingers in the other's face.
The Master was now as calm as his foe was passionate. "Where?"
he replied sternly; why, there!" holding out his right hand. "Yon's
proof enough to hang a hunner'd." For lying in his broad palm was
a little bundle of that damning red hair.
"Let's see it!" The little man bent to look closer.
"There's for yer proof!" he cried, and spat deliberately down into
the other's naked palm. Then he stood back, facing his enemy in a
manner to have done credit to a nobler deed.
James Moore strode forward. It looked as if he was about to make
an end of his miserable adversary, so strongly was he moved. His
chest heaved, and the blue eyes blazed. But just as one had thought
to see him take his foe in the hollow of his hand and crush him,
who should come stalking round the corner of the house but the
A droll spectacle he made, laughable even. at that moment. He
limped sorely, his head and neck were swathed in bandages, and
beneath their ragged fringe the little eyes gleamed out fiery and
Round the corner he came, unaware of strangers; then straightway
recognizing his visitors, halted abruptly. His hackles ran up, each
individual hair stood on end till his whole body resembled a
new-shorn wheat-field; and a snarl, like a rusty brake shoved hard
down~ escaped from between his teeth. Then he trotted heavily
forward, his head sinking low and lower as he came.
And Owd Bob, eager to take up the gage of battle, advanced, glad
and gallant, to meet him. Daintily he picked his way across the.
yard, head and tail erect, perfectly self-contained. Only the long
gray hair about his neck stood up like the ruff of a lady of the court
of Queen Elizabeth.
But the war-worn warriors were not to be allowed their will.
"Wullie, Wullie, wad ye!" cried the little man.
"Bob, lad, coom in!" called the other. Then~ he turned and looked
down at the man beside him, contempt flaunting in every feature.
"Well?" he said shortly.
M'Adam's hands were opening and shuting; his face was quite
white beneath the tan; but he spoke calmly.
"I'll tell ye the whole story, and it's the truth," he said slowly. "I
was up there the morn "--pointing to the window above--" and I see
Wullie crouchin' down alangside the Stony Bottom. (Ye ken he has
the run o' ma land o' neets, the same as your dog.) In a minnit I see
anither dog squatterin' alang on your side the Bottom. He creeps up
to the sheep on th' hillside, chases 'em, and doons one. The sun
was risen by then, and I see the dog clear as I see you noo. It was
that dog there--I swear it!" His voice rose as he spoke, and he
pointed an accusing finger at Owd Bob.
"Noo, Wullie! thinks I. And afore ye could clap yer hands, Wullie
was over the Bottom and on to him as he gorged--the bloody-
minded murderer! They fought and fought--I could hear the roarin'
a't where I stood. I watched till I could watch nae langer, and, all in
a sweat, I rin doon the stairs and oot. When I got there, there was
yer tyke makin' fu' split for Kenmuir, and Wullie comin' up the hill
to me. It's God's truth, I'm tellin' ye. Tak' him hame, James Moore,
and let his dinner be an ounce o' lead. 'Twill be the best day's work
iver ye done."
The little man must be lying--lying palpably. Yet he spoke with an
earnestness, a seeming belief in his own story, that might have
convinced one who knew him less well. But the Master only
looked down on him with a great scorn.
"It's Monday to-day." he said coldly. "I gie yo' till Saturday. If yo've
not done your duty by then--and well you know what 'tis--I shall
come do it for ye. Ony gate, I shall come and see. I'll remind ye
agin o' Thursday--yo'll be at the Manor dinner, I suppose. Noo I've
warned yo', and you know best whether I'm in earnest or no. Bob,
He turned away, but turned again.
"I'm sorry for ye, but I've ma duty to do-- so've you. Till Saturday I
shall breathe no word to ony soul o' this business, so that if you see
good to put him oot o' the way wi'oot bother, no one need iver
know as hoo Adam M'Adam's Red Wull was the Black Killer."
He turned away for the second time. But the little man sprang after
him, and clutched him by the arm.
"Look ye here, James Moore!" he cried in thick, shaky, horrible
voice. "Ye're big, I'm sma'; ye're strang, I'm weak; ye've ivery one
to your back, I've niver a one; you tell your story, and they'll
believe ye--for you gae to church; I'll tell mine, and they'll think I
lie--for I dinna. But a word in your ear! If iver agin I catch ye on
ma land, by--! "--he swore a great oath--" I'll no spare ye. You ken
best if I'm in earnest or no." And his face was dreadful to see in its
Chapter XXVII FOR THE DEFENCE
THAT night a vague story was whispered In the Sylvester Arms.
But Tammas, on being interrogated, pursed his lips and said: "Nay,
I'm sworn to say nowt." Which was the old man's way of putting
that he knew nowt.
On Thursday morning, James Moore and Andrew came down
arrayed in all their best. It was the day of the squire's annual dinner
to his tenants.
The two, however, were not allowed to start upon their way until
they had undergone a critical inspection by Maggie; for the girl
liked her mankind to do honor to Kenmuir on these occasions. So
she brushed up Andrew, tied his scarf, saw his boots and hands
were clean, and titivated him generally till she had converted the
ungainly hobbledehoy into a thoroughly "likely young mon."
And all the while she was thinking of that other boy for whom on
such gala days she had been wont to perform like offices. And her
father, marking the tears in her eyes, and mindful of the squire's
mysterious hint, said gently:
"Cheer up, lass. Happen I'll ha' news for you the night!"
The girl nodded, and smiled wanly.
"Happen so, dad," she said. But in her heart she doubted.
Nevertheless it was with a cheerful countenance that, a little later,
she stood in the door with wee Anne and Owd Bob and waved the
travellers Godspeed; while the golden-haired lassie, fiercely
gripping the old dog's tail with one hand and her sister with the
other, screamed them a wordless farewell.
The sun had reached its highest when the two wayfarers passed
through the gray portals of the Manor.
In the stately entrance hall, imposing with all the evidences of a
long and honorable line, were gathered now the many tenants
throughout the wide March Mere Estate. Weather-beaten,
rent-paying sons of the soil; most of them native-born, many of
them like James Moore, whose fathers had for generations owned
and farmed the land they now leased at the hands of the Sylvesters
there in the old hail they were assembled, a mighty host. And apart
from the others, standing as though in irony beneath the frown of
one of those steel-clad warriors who held the door, was little
M'Adam, puny always, paltry now, mocking his manhood.
The door at the far end of the hail opened, and the squire entered,
beaming on every one.
"Here you are--eh, eh! How are you all? Glad to see ye! Good-day,
James! Good-day, Saunderson! Good-day to you all! Bringin' a
friend with me--eh, eh!" and he stood aside to let by his agent,
Parson Leggy, and last of all, shy and blushing, a fair-haired young
"If it bain't David!" was the cry. "Eh, lad, we's fain to see yo'! And
yo'm lookin' stout, surely!" And they thronged about the boy,
shaking him by the hand, and asking him his story.
'Twas but a simple tale. After his flight on the eventful night he
had gone south, drover-- ing. He had written to Maggie, and been
surprised and hurt to receive no reply. In vain he had waited, and
too proud to write again, had remained ignorant of his father's
recovery,, neither caring nor daring to return. Then by mere
chance, he had met the squire at the York cattle-show; and that
kind man, who knew his story, had eased his fears and obtained
from him a promise to return as soon as the term of his
engagement had expired. And there he was.
The Dalesmen gathered round the boy, listening to his tale, and in
return telling him the home news, and chaffing him about Maggie.
Of all the people present, only one seemed unmoved, and that was
M'Adam. When first David had entered he had started forward, a
flush of color warming his thin cheeks; but no one had noticed his
emotion; and now, back again beneath his armor, he watched the
scene, a sour smile playing about his lips.
"I think the lad might ha' the grace to come and say he's sorry for
'temptin' to murder me. Hooiver "--with a characteristic shrug--" I
suppose I'm onraisonahie."
Then the gong rang out its summons, and the squire led the way
into the great dining-hail. At the one end of the long table, heavy
with all the solid delicacies of such a feast, he took his seat with
the Master of Kenmuir upon his right. At the other end was Parson
Leggy. While down the sides the stalwart Dalesmen were arrayed,
with M'Adam a little lost figure in the centre.
At first they talked but little, awed like chil.. dren: knives plied,
glasses tinkled, the carvers had all their work, only the tongues
were at rest. But the squire's ringing laugh and the parson's cheery
tones soon put them at their ease; and a babel of voices rose and
Of them all, only M'Adam sat silent. He talked to no man, and you
may be sure no one talked to him. His hand crept of tener to his
glass than plate, till the sallow face began to flush, and the dim
eyes to grow unnaturally bright.
Toward the end of the meal there was loud tapping on the table,
calls for silence, and men pushed back their chairs. The squire was
on his feet to make his annual speech.
He started by telling them how glad he was to see them there. He
made an allusion to Owd Bob and the Shepherds' Trophy which
was heartily applauded. He touched on the Black Killer, and said
he had a remedy to propose: that Th' Owd Un should he set upon
the criminal's track--a suggestion which was received with
enthusiasm, while M'Adam's cackling laugh could be heard high
above the rest.
From that he dwelt upon the existing condition of agriculture, the
depression in which he attributed to the late Radical Government.
He said that now with the Conservatives in office, and a ministry
composed of "honorable men and gentlemen," he felt convinced
that things would brighten. The Radicals' one ambition was to set
class against class, landlord against tenant. Well, during the last
five hundred years, the Sylvesters had rarely been--he was sorry to
have to confess it--good men (laughter and dissent); but he never
yet heard of the Sylvester--though he shouldn't say it--~-who was a
bad landlord (loud applause).
This was a free country, and any tenant of his who was not content
(a voice, "'Oo says we bain't? ")--" thank you, thank you! "--well,
there was room for him outside. (Cheers.)
He thanked God from the bottom of his heart
that, during the forty years he had been responsible for the March
Mere Estate, there had never been any friction between him and
his people (cheers), and he didn't think there ever would be. (Loud
"Thank you, thank you!" And his motto was, "Shun a Radical as
you do the devil!"-- and he was very glad to see them all there--
very glad; and he wished to give them a toast, "The Queen! God
bless her!" and--wait a minute!--with her Majesty's name to couple
--he was sure that gracious lady would wish it--that of "Owd Bob o'
Kenmuir!" Then he sat down abruptly amid thundering applause.
The toasts duly honoured, James Moore, by prescriptive right as
Master of Kenmuir, rose to answer.
He began by saying that he spoke "as representing all the tenants,
"--but he was interrupted.
"Na," came a shrill voice from half-way down the table. "Yell
except me, James Moore. I'd as lief be represented by Judas!"
There were cries of "Hold ye gab, little mon!" and the squire's
voice, "That'll do, Mr. M'Adam!"
The little man restrained his tongue, but his eyes gleamed like a
ferret's; and the Master continued his speech.
He spoke briefly and to the point, in short phrases. And all the
while M'Adam kept up a low-voiced, running commentary. At
length he could control himself no longer. Half rising from his
chair, he leant forward with hot face and burning eyes, and cried:
"Sit doon, James Moore! Hoo daur ye stan' there like an honest
man, ye whitewashed sepulchre? Sit doon, I say, or'
'--threateningly--" wad ye hae me come to ye?"
At that the Dalesmen laughed uproariously, and even the Master's
grim face relaxed. But the squire's voice rang out sharp and stern.
"Keep silence and sit down, Mr. M'Adam! D'you hear me, sir? If I
have to speak to you again it will be to order you to leave the
The little man obeyed, sullen and vengeful, like a beaten cat.
The Master concluded his speech by calling on all present to give
three cheers for the squire, her ladyship, and the young ladies.
The call was responded to enthusiastically, every man standing.
Just as the noise was at its zenith, Lady Eleanour herself, with her
two fair daughters, glided into the gallery at the end of the hall;
whereat the cheering became deafening.
Slowly the clamor subsided. One by one the tenants sat down. At
length there was left standing only one solitary figure-- M 'Adam.
His face was set, and he gripped the chair in front of him with thin,
"Mr. Sylvester," he began in low yet clear voice, "ye said this is a
free country and we're a' free men. And that hem' so, I'll tak' the
liberty, wi' yer permission, to say a word. It's maybe the last time
I'll be wi' ye, so I hope ye'll listen to me."
The Dalesmen looked surprised, and the squire uneasy.
Nevertheless he nodded assent.
The little man straightened himself. His face was tense as though
strung up to a high resolve. All the passion had fled from it, all the
bitterness was gone; and left behind was a strange, enobling
earnestness. Standing there in the silence of that great hail, with
every eye upon him, he looked like some prisoner at the bar about
to plead for his life.
"Gentlemen," he began, "I've bin amang ye noo a score years, and I
can truly say there's not a man in this room I can ca' 'Friend.' " He
looked along the ranks of upturned faces. "Ay, David, I see ye, and
you, Mr. Hornbut, and you, Mr. Sylvester--ilka one o' you, and not
one as'd back me like a comrade gin a trouble came upon me."
There was no rebuke in the grave little voice--it merely stated a
"There's I doot no one amang ye but has some one--friend or
blood--wham he can turn to when things are sair wi' him. I've no
'I bear alane my lade o' care'--
alane wi' Wullie, who stands to me, blaw or snaw, rain or shine.
And whiles I'm feared he'll be took from me." He spoke this last
half to himself, a grieved, puzzled expression on his face, as
though lately he had dreamed some ill dream.
"Forbye Wuilie, I've no friend on God's earth. And, mind ye, a bad
man aften mak's a good friend--but ye've never given me the
chance. It's a sair thing that, gentlemen, to ha' to fight the battle o'
life alane: no one to pat ye on th' back, no one to say 'Weel done.' It
hardly gies a man a chance. For gin he does try and yet fails, men
never mind the tryin', they only mark the failin'.
"I dinna blame ye. There'., somethin' bred in me, it se ms, as sets
ivery one agin me. It's the same wi' Wullie and the tykes--they're
doon on him same as men are on me. I suppose we was made so.
Sin' I was a lad it's aye bin the same. From school days I've had
ivery one agin me.
"In ma life I've had three fiends. Ma mither--and she went; then ma
wife "--he gave a great swallow--" and she's awa'; and I may say
they're the only two human hem's as ha' lived on God's earth in ma
time that iver tried to bear wi' me; -- and Wullie. A man's mither--a
man's wife-a man's dog! it's aften a' he has in this wand; and the
more he prizes them the more like they are to be took from him."
The little earnest voice shook, and the dim eyes puckered and
"Sin' I've bin amang ye-twenty-odd years --can any man here mind
speakin' any word that wasna ill to me?" He paused; there was no
"I'll tell ye. All the time I've lived here I've had one kindly word
spoke to me, and that a fortnight gone, and not by a man then--by
her ladyship, God bless her!" He glanced up into the gallery.
There was no one visible there; but a curtain at one end shook as
though it were sobbing.
"Weel, I'm thinkin' we'll be gaein' in a wee while noo, Wullie and
me, alane and thegither, as we've aye done. And it's time we went.
Ye've had enough o' us, and it's no for me to blame ye. And when
I'm gone what'll ye say o' me? 'He was a drunkard.' I am. 'He was a
sinner.' I am. 'He was ilka thing he shouldna be.' I am. 'We're glad
he's gone.' That's what ye'il say o' me. And it's but ma deserts."
The gentle, condemning voice ceased, and began again.
"That's what I am. Gin things had been differ', aiblins I'd ha' bin
differ'. D'ye ken Robbie Burns? That's a man I've read, and ead,
and read. D'ye ken why I love him as some o' you do yen Bibles?
Because there's a humanity about him. A weak man hissel', aye
slippin', slippin', slippin', and tryin' to haud up; sorrowin' ae
minute, sinnin' the next; doin' ill deeds and wishin' 'em
undone--just a plain human man, a sinner. And that's why I'm
thinkin he's tender for us as is like him. He understood. It's what he
wrote--after am o' his tumbles, I'm thinkin'--that I was goin' to tell
'Then gently scan yer brother man,
Still gentler sister woman,
Though they may gang a kennin' wrang,
To step aside is human'--
the doctrine o' Charity. Gie him his chance, says Robbie, though he
be a sinner. Mony a mon'd be differ', mony bad'd be gude, gin they
had but their chance. Gie 'em their chance, says he; and I'm wi'
him. As 'tis, ye see me here--a bad man wi' still a streak o' good in
him. Gin I'd had ma chance, aiblins 'twad be--a good man wi' just a
spice o' the devil in him. A' the differ' betune what is and what
might ha' bin."
Chapter XXVIII THE DEVIL'S BOWL
HE sat down. In the great hail there was silence, save for a tiny
sound from the gallery like a sob suppressed.
The squire rose hurriedly and left the room. After him, one by one,
trailed the tenants. At length, two only remained--M'Adam, sitting
solitary with a long array of empty chairs on either hand; and, at
the far end of the table, Parson Leggy, stern, upright, motionless.
When the last man had left the room the parson rose, and with lips
tight-set strode across the silent hail.
"M'Adam," he said rapidly and almost roughly, "I've listened to
what you've said, as I think we all have, with a sore heart. You hit
hard--but I think you were right. And if I've not done my duty by
you as I ought--and I fear I've not--it's now my duty as God's
minister to be the first to say I'm sorry." And it was evident from
his face what an effort the words cost him.
The little man tilted back his chair, and raised his head.
It was the old M'Adam who looked up. The thin lips were curled; a
grin was crawling across the mocking face; and he wagged his
head gently, as he looked at the speaker through the slits of his
"Mr. Hurnbert, I believe ye thocht me in earnest, 'deed and I do!"
He leaned back in his chair and laughed softly. "Ye swallered it all
down like best butter. Dear, dear! to think o' that!" Then, stretching
"Mr. Hornbut, I was playin' wi' ye."
The parson's face, as he listened, was ugly to watch. He shot out a
hand and grabbed the scoffer by his coat; then dropped it again and
turned abruptly away.
As he passed through the door a little sneering voice called after
"Mr. Hornbut, I ask ye hoo you, a minister o' the Church of
England, can reconcile it to yer conscience to think--though it be
but for a minute--that there can be ony good in a man and him no
churchgoer? Sir, ye're a heretic--not to say a heathen!" He
sniggered to himself, and his hand crept to a half-emptied wine
An hour later, James Moore, his business with the squire
completed, passed through the hail on his way out. Its only
occupant was now M'Adam, and the Master walked straight up to
"M'Adam," he said gruffly, holding out a sinewy hand, "I'd like to
The little man knocked aside the token of friendship.
"Na, na. No cant, if ye please, James Moore. That'll aiblins go
doon wi' the parsons, but not wi' me. I ken you and you ken me,
and all the whitewash i' th' wand '11 no deceive us."
The Master turned away, and his face was hard as the nether
millstone. But the little man pursued him.
I was nigh forgettin'," he said. "I've a surprise for ye, James Moore.
But I hear it's yer birthday on Sunday, and I'll keep it till then--he!
"Ye'il see me before Sunday, M'Adam," the other answered. "On
Saturday, as I told yo', I'm comin' to see if yo've done yer duty."
"Whether ye come, James Moore, is your business. Whether ye'll
iver go, once there, I'll mak' mine. I've warned ye twice noo and
the little man laughed that harsh, cackling laugh of his.
At the door of the hall the Master met David. "Noo, lad, yo're
comin' along wi' Andrew and me," he said; "Maggie'll niver forgie
us if we dinna bring yo' home wi' us."
"Thank you kindly, Mr. Moore," the boy replied. "I've to see squire
first; and then yo' may be sure I'll be after you.''
The Master faltered a moment.
"David, ha'n yo' spoke to yer father yet?" he asked in low voice.
"Yo' should, lad."
The boy made a gesture of dissent.
"I canna," he said petulantly.
"I would, lad," the other advised. "An' yo' don't yo' may be sorry
As he turned away he heard the boy's steps, dull and sodden, as he
crossed the hall; and then a thin, would-be cordial voice in the
"I declar' if 'tisna David! The return o' the Prodeegal--he! he! So
ye've seen yer auld dad at last, and the last; the proper place, say
ye, for yen father--he! he! Eh, lad, but I'm blithe to see ye. D'ye
mind when we was last thegither? Ye was kneelin' on ma chest:
'Your time's come, dad,' says you, and wangs me o'er the face--he!
he! I mind it as if 'twas yesterday. Weel, weel, we'll say nae mair
about it. Boys will be boys. Sons will be sons. Accidents will
happen. And if at first ye don't succeed, why, try, try again--he!
Dusk was merging into darkness when the Master and Andrew
reached the Dalesman's Daughter. It had been long dark when they
emerged from the cosy parlor of the inn and plunged out into the
As they crossed the Silver Lea and trudged over that familiar
ground, where a fortnight since had been fought out the battle of
the Cup, the wind fluttered past them in spasmodic gasps.
"There s trouble in the wind," said the Master.
"Ay," answered his laconic son.
All day there had been no breath of air, and the sky dangerously
blue. But now a world of black was surging up from the horizon,
smothering the star-lit night; and small dark clouds, like puffs of
smoke, detaching themselves from the main body, were driving
tempestuously forward--the vanguard of the storm.
In the distance was a low tumbling like heavy tumbrils on the floor
of heaven. All about, the wind sounded hollow like a mighty
scythe on corn. The air was oppressed with a leaden blackness--no
glimmer of light on any hand; and as they began the ascent of the
Pass they reached out blind hands to feel along the rock-face.
A sea-fret, cool and wetting, fell. A few big rain-drops splashed
heavily down. The wind rose with a leap and roared past them up
the rocky track. And the water-gates of heaven were flung wide.
Wet and weary, they battled on; thinking sometimes of the cosy
parlor behind; sometimes of the home in front; wondering whether
Maggie, in flat contradiction of her father's orders, would be up to
welcome them; or whether only Owd Bob would come out to meet
The wind volleyed past them like salvoes of artillery. The rain
stormed at them from above; spat at them from the rock-face; and
leapt up at them from their feet.
Once they halted for a moment, finding a miserable shelter in a
crevice of the rock.
"It's a Black Killer's night," panted the Master. "I reck'n he's oot."
"Ay," the boy gasped, "reck'n he is." Up and up they climbed
through the blackness, blind and buffeted. The eternal thunder of
the rain was all about them; the clamor of the gale above; and far
beneath, the roar of angry waters.
Once, in a lull in the storm, the Master turned and looked back
into the blackness along the path they had come.
"Did ye hear onythin'?" he roared above the muffled soughing of
"Nay!" Andrew shouted back.
"I thowt I heard a step!" the Master cried, peering down. But
nothing could he see.
Then the wind leaped to life again like a giant from his sleep,
drowning all sound with its hurricane voice; and they turned and
bent to their task again.
Nearing the summit, the Master turned once more.
"There it was again!" he called; but his words were swept away on
the storm; and they buckled to the struggle afresh.
Ever and anon the moon gleamed down through the riot of tossing
sky. Then they could see the wet wall above them, with the water
tumbling down its sheer face; and far below, in the roaring
gutter of the Pass a brown-stained torrent. Hardly, however, had
they time to glance around when a mass of cloud would hurry
jealously up, and all again was blackness and noise.
At length, nigh spent, they topped the last and steepest pitch of the
Pass, and emerged into the Devil's Bowl. There, overcome with
their exertions, they flung themselves on to the soaking ground to
Behind them, the wind rushed with a sullen roar up the funnel of
the Pass. It screamed above them as though ten million devils were
a-horse; and blurted out on to the wild Marches beyond.
As they lay there, still panting, the moon gleamed down in
momentary graciousness. In front, through the lashing rain, they
could discern the hillocks that squat, hag-like, round the Devil's
Bowl; and lying in its bosom, its white waters, usually so still,
ploughed now into a thousand furrows, the Lone Tarn.
The Master raised his head and craned forward at the ghostly
scene. Of a sudden he reared himself on to his arms, and stayed
motionless awhile. Then he dropped as though dead, forcing down
Andrew with an iron hand.
"Lad, did'st see?" he whispered.
"Nay; what was't?" the boy replied, roused by his father's tone.
But as the Master pointed forward, a blur of cloud intervened and
all was dark. Quickly it passed; and again the lantern of the night
shone down. And Andrew, looking with all his eyes, saw indeed.
There, in front, by the fretting waters of the Tarn, packed in a solid
phalanx, with every head turned in the same direction, was a flock
of sheep. They were motionless, all-intent, staring with
horror-bulging eyes. A column of steam rose from their bodies into
the rain-pierced air. Panting and palpitating, yet they stood with
their backs to the water, as though determined to sell their lives
dearly. Beyond them, not fifty yards away, crouched a
humpbacked boulder, casting a long, misshapen shadow in the
moonlight. And beneath it were two black objects, one still
"The Killer!" gasped the boy, and, all ablaze with excitement,
began forging forward.
"Steady, lad, steady!" urged his father, dropping a restraining hand
on the boy's shoulder.
Above them a huddle of clouds flung in furious rout across the
night, and the moon was veiled.
"Follow, lad!" ordered the Master, and began to crawl silently
forward. As stealthily Andrew pursued. And over the sodden
ground they crept, one behind the other, like two' night-hawks on
some foul errand.
On they crawled, lying prone during the blinks of moon, stealing
forward in the dark; till, at length, the swish of the rain on the
waters of the Tarn, and the sobbing of the fock in front, warned
them they were near.
They skirted the trembling pack, passing so close as to brush
against the flanking sheep; and yet unnoticed, for the sheep were
soul-absorbed in the tragedy in front. Only, when the moon was in,
Andrew could hear them huddling and stamping in the darkness.
And again, as it shone out, fearfully they edged closer to watch the
Along the Tarn edge the two crept. And still the gracious moon hid
their approach, and the drunken wind drowned with its revelry the
sound of their coming.
So they stole on, on hands and knees, with hearts aghast and
fluttering breath; until, of a sudden, in a lull of wind, they could
hear, right before them, the smack and slobber of bloody lips,
chewing their bloody meal.
"Say thy prayers, Red Wull. Thy last minute's come!" muttered the
Master, rising to his knees. Then, in Andrew's ear: "When I rush,
lad, follow!" For he thought, when the moon rose, to jump in on
the great dog, and, surprising him as he lay gorged and
Unsuspicious, to deal him one terrible swashing blow, and end
forever the lawless doings of the Tailless Tyke.
The moon flung off its veil of cloud. White and cold, it stared
down into the Devil's Bowl; on murderer and murdered.
Within a hand's cast of the avengers of blood humped the black
boulder. On the border of its shadow lay a dead sheep; and
standing beside the body, his coat all ruffled by the hand of the
storm--Owd Bob--Owd Bob o' Kenmuir.
Then the light went in, and darkness covered the land.
Chapter XXIX THE DEVIL'S BOWL
IT was Owd Bob. There could be no mistaking. In the wide world
there was but one Owd Bob o' Kenmuir. The silver moon gleamed
down on the dark head and rough gray coat, and lit the white
escutcheon on his chest.
And in the darkness James Moore was lying with his face pressed
downward that he might not see.
Once he raised himself on his arms; his eyes were shut and face
uplifted, like a blind man praying. He passed a weary hand across
his brow; his head dropped again; and he moaned and moaned like
a man in everlasting pain.
Then the darkness lifted a moment, and he stole a furtive glance,
like a murderer's at the gallows-tree, at the scene in front.
It was no dream; clear and cruel in the moonlight the humpbacked
boulder; the dead sheep; and that gray figure, beautiful,
motionless, damned for all eternity.
The Master turned his face and looked at Andrew, a dumb, pitiful
entreaty in his eyes; but in the boy's white, horror-stricken
countenance was no comfort. Then his head lolled down again,
and the strong man was whimpering.
"He! he! he! 'Scuse ma laffin', Mr. Moore--he! he! he!"
A little man, all wet and shrunk, sat hunching on a mound above
them, rocking his shrivelled form to and fro in the agony of his
"Ye raskil--he! he! Ye rogue--he! he!' and he shook his fist
waggishly at the unconscious gray dog. "I owe ye anither grudge
for this--ye've anteecipated me "--and he leant. back and shook this
way and that in convulsive mirth.
The man below him rose heavily to his feet. and tumbled toward
the mocker, his great figure swaying from side to side as though in
blind delirium, moaning still as he went. And. there was that on his
face which no man can mistake. Boy that he was, Andrew knew it..
"Feyther! feyther! do'ee not!" he pleaded, running after his father
and laying impotent. hands on him.
But the strong man shook him off like a fly, and rolled on, swaying
and groaning, with that awful expression plain to see in the
In front the little man squatted in the rain, bowed double still; and
took no thought to flee.
"Come on, James Moore! Come on!" he laughed, malignant joy in
his voice; and. something gleamed bright in his right hand, and
was hid again. "I've bin waitin' this a weary while noo. Come
Then had there been done something worse than sheep-murder in
the dreadful lonesomeness of the Devil's Bowl upon that night; but
of a sudden, there sounded the splash of a man's foot, falling
heavily behind; a hand like a falling tree smote the Master on the
shoulder;~ and a voice roared above the noise of the storm:
"Mr. Moore! Look, man! look!"
The Master tried to shake off that detaining grasp; but it pinned
him where he was, immovable.
"Look, I tell yo'!" cried that great voice again.
A hand pushed past him and pointed; and. sullenly he turned,
ignoring the figure at his. side, and looked.
The wind had dropped suddenly as it had risen; the little man on
the mound had ceased to chuckle; Andrew's sobs were hushed; and
in the background the huddled flock edged closer. The world hung
balanced on the pinpoint of the moment. Every eye was in the one
With dull, uncomprehending gaze James Moore stared as bidden.
There was the gray dog naked in the moonlight, heedless still of
any witnesses; there the murdered sheep, lying within and without
that distorted shade; and there the humpbacked boulder.
He stared into the shadow, and still stared.
Then he started as though struck. The shadow of the boulder h~d
Motionless, with head shot forward and bulging eyes, he gazed.
Ay, ay, ay; he was sure of it--a huge dim outline as of a lion
couchant, in the very thickest of the blackness.
At that he was seized with such a palsy of trembling that he must
have fallen but for the strong arm about his waist.
Clearer every moment grew that crouching figure; till at length
they plainly could discern the line of arching loins, the crest, thick
as a ~stallion's, the massive, wagging head. No mistake this time.
There he lay i the deep..est black, gigantic, revelling in hi horrid
debauch--the Black Killer!
And they watched him at his feast. Now he burrowed into the
spongy flesh; now turned to lap the dark pool which glittered in
the moonlight at his side like claret in a silver cup. Now lifting his
head, he snapped irritably at the rain-drops, and the moon caught
his wicked, rolling eye and the red shreds of flesh dripping from
his jaw. And again, raising his great muzzle as if about to howl, he
let the delicious nectar trickle down his throat and ravish his
So he went on, all unsuspicious, wisely nodding in slow-mouthed
gluttony. And in the stillness, between the claps of wind, they
could hear the smacking of his lips.
While all the time the gray dog stood before him, motionless, as
though carved in stone.
At last, as the murderer rolled his great. head from side to side, he
saw that still figure. At the sight he leaped back, dismayed. Then
with a deep-mouthed roar that shook the waters of the Tarn he was
up and across his. victim with fangs bared, his coat standing' erect
in wet, rigid furrows from topknot to tail.
So the two stood, face to face, with perhaps~ a yard of rain-pierced
air between them.
The wind hushed its sighing to listen. The moon stared down,
white and dumb. Away at the back the sheep edged closer. While
save for the everlasting thunder of the rain, there was utter
An age, it seemed, they waited so. Then a voice, clear yet low and
far away, like a bugle in a distant city, broke the silence.
"Eh, Wullie!" it said.
There was no anger in the tones, only an incomparable reproach;
the sound of the cracking of a man's heart.
At the call the great dog leapt round, snarling in hideous passion.
He saw the small,' familiar figure, clear-cut against the tumbling
sky; and for the only time in his life Red Wull was afraid.
His blood-foe was forgotten; the dead sheep' was forgotten;
everything was sunk in the agony of that moment. He cowered
upon the ground, and a cry like that of a lost sbul was wrung from
him; it rose on the still night air and floated, wailing, away; and
the white waters of the Tarn thrilled in cold pity; out of the lonely
hollow; over the desolate Marches; into the night.
On the mound above stood his master. The little man's white hair
was bared to the night wind; the rain trickled down his face; and
his hands were folded behind his back. He stood there, looking
down into the dell below him, as a man may stand at the tomb of
his lately buried wife. And there was such an expression on his
face as I cannot describe.
"Wullie, Wullie, to me!" he cried at length; and his voice sounded
weak and far, like a distant memory.
At that, the huge brute came crawling toward him~,,on his belly,
whimpering as he came, very pitiful in his distress. He knew his
fate as every sheep-dog knows it. That troubled him not. His pain,
insufferable, was that this, his friend and father, who had trusted
him, should have found him in his sin.
So he crept up to his master's feet; and the little man never moved.
"Wullie--ma Wullie!" he said very gently. "They've aye bin agin
me--and noo you! A man's mither--a man's wife--a man's dog!
they're all I've iver had; and noo am o' they three has turned agin
me! Indeed I am alone!"
At that the great dog raised himself, and placing his forepaws on
his master's chest tenderly, lest he should hurt him who was
already hurt past healing, stood towering above him; while the
little man laid his two colds hands on the dog's shoulders.
So they stood, looking at one another, like a man and his love.
At M'Adam's word, Owd Bob looked up, and for the first time saw
He seemed in nowise startled, but trotted over to him. There was
nothing fearful in his carriage, no haunting blood-guiltness in the
true gray eyes which never told a lie, which never, dog-like, failed
to look you in the face. Yet his tail was low, and, as he stopped at
his master's feet~ he was quivering. For he, too, knew, and was not
For weeks he had tracked the Killer; for weeks he had followed
him as he crossed Kenmuir, bound on his bloody errands; yet
always had lost him on the Marches. Now, at last, he had r'1n him
to ground. Yet his heart went. out to his enemy in his distress.
"I thowt t'had been yo', lad," the Master whispered, his hand on the
dark head at his knee-- "I thowt t'had bin yo'!"
Rooted to the ground, the three watched the scene between
M'Adam and his Wull.
In the end the Master was whimpering; Andrew crying; and David
turned his back.
Chapter XXX. THE TAILLESS TYKE AT BAY
ON the following morning there was a sheep-auction at the
Early as many of the farmers arrived, there was one earlier.
Tupper, the first man to enter the sand-floored parlor, found
M'Adam before him.
He was sitting a little forward in his chair; his thin hands rested
on his knees; and on his face was a gentle, dreamy expression such
as no man had ever seen there before. All the harsh wrinkles
seemed to have fled in the night; and the sour face, stamped deep
with the bitterness of life, was softened now, as if at length at
"When I coom doon this mornin'," said Teddy Bolstock in a
whisper, "I found 'im sittin' just so. And he's nor moved nor spoke
"Where's th' Terror, then?" asked Tupper, awed somehow into
like hushed tones.
"In t' paddock at back," Teddy answered, "marchin' hoop and doon,
hoop and doon, for a' the world like a sentry-soger. And so he was
when I looked oot o' window when I wake."
Then Londesley entered, and after him, Ned Hoppin, Rob
Saunderson, Jim Mason, and others, each with his dog. And each
man, as he came in and saw the little lone figure for once without
its huge attendant genius, put the same question; while the dogs
sniffed about the little man, as though suspecting treachery. And
all the time M'Adam sat as though he neither heard nor saw, lost in
some sweet, sad dream; so quite, so silent, that more than one
thought he slept.
After the first glance, however, the farmers paid him little heed,
clustering round the publican at the farther end of the room to hear
the latest story of Owd Bob.
It appeared that a week previously, James Moore with a pack of
sheep had met the new Grammoch-town butcher at the Dalesmen's
Daughter. A bargain concluded, the butcher started with the flock
for home. As he had no dog, the Master offered him Th' Owd Un.
"And he'll pick me i' th' town to-morrow," said he.
Now the butcher was a stranger in the land. Of course he had heard
of Owd Bob o' Ken.. muir, yet it never struck him that this
handsome gentleman with the quiet, resolute manner, who handled
sheep as he had never seen them handled, was that hero--" the best
sheep-dog in the North."
Certain it is that by the time the flock was penned in the enclosure
behind the shop, he coveted the dog--ay, would even offer ten
pounds for him!
Forthwith the butcher locked him up in an outhouse--summit of
indignity; resolving to make his offer on the morrow.
When the morrow came he found no dog in the outhouse, and,
worse, no sheep in the enclosure. A sprung board showed the way
of escape of the one, and a displaced hurdle that of the other. And
as he was making the discovery, a gray dog and a flock of sheep,
travelling along the road toward the Dalesman's Daughter, met the
From the first, Owd Bob had mistrusted the man. The attempt to
confine him set the seal on his suspicions. His master's sheep were
not for such a rogue; and he worked his own way out and took the
sheep along with him.
The story was told to a running chorus of-- "Ma word! Good, Owd
Un !--Ho! ho! did he thot?"
Of them all, only M'Adam sat strangely silent. Rob Saunderson,
always glad to draw the little man, remarked it.
"And what d'yo' think o' that, Mr. M'Adam, for a wunnerfu' story of
a wunnerfu' tyke?" he asked.
"It's a gude tale, a vera gude tale," the little man answered
dreamily. "And James Moore didna invent it; he had it from the
Christmas number o' the Flock-keeper in saxty." (On the following
Sunday, old Rob, from sheer curiosity, reached down from his
shelf the specified number of the paper. To his amazement he
found the little man was right. There was the story almost
identically. None the less is it also true of Owd Bob o' Kenmuir.)
"Ay, ay," the little man continued, "and in a day or two James
Moore'll ha' anither tale to tell ye--a better tale, ye'll think it--mair
laffable. And yet--ay---no---I'll no believe it! I niver loved James
Moore, but I think, as Mr. Hornbut aince said, he'd rather die than
lie. Owd Bob o' Kenmuir!" he continued in a whisper. "Up till the
end I canna shake him aff. Hafflins I think that where I'm gaein' to
there'll be gray dogs sneakin' around me in the twilight. And
they're aye behind and behind, and I canna, canna--"
Teddy Bolstock interrupted, lifting his hand for silence.
"D'yo' hear thot?--Thunder!"
They listened; and from without came a gurgling, jarring roar,
horrible to hear.
"It's comin' nearer!"
"Nay, it's goin' away!"
"No thunder thot!"
"More like the Lea in flood. And yet--Eh, Mr. M'Adam, what is
The little man had moved at last. He was on his feet, staring about
"Where's yer dogs?" he almost screamed.
"Here's ma-- Nay, by thunder! but he's not!" was the astonished cry.
In the interest of the story no man had noticed that his dog had
risen from his side; no one had noticed a file of shaggy figures
creeping out of the room.
"I tell ye it's the tykes! I tell ye it's the tykes! They're on ma
Wullie--fifty to one they're on him! My God! My God! And me not
there! Wullie, Wullie! "--in a scream --"I'm wi' ye!''
At the same moment Bessie Boistock rushed in, white-faced.
"Hi! Feyther! Mr. Saunderson! all o' you! T'tykes fightin' mad!
There was no time for that. Each man seized his stick and rushed
for the door; and M'Adam led them all.
A rare thing it was for M'Adam and Red Wull to be apart. So rare,
that others besides the men in that little tap-room noticed it.
Saunderson's old Shep walked quietly to the back door of the
house and looked out.
There on the slope below him he saw what he sought, stalking up
and down, gaunt and grim, like a lion at feeding-time. And as the
old dog watched, his tail was gently swaying as though he were
He walked back into the tap-room just as Teddy began his tale.
Twice he made the round of the room, silent-footed. From dog to
dog he went, stopping at each as though ~trging him on to some
great enterprise. Then he made for the door again, looking back to
see if any followed.
One by one the others rose and trailed out after him: big blue
Rasper, Londesley's Lassie, Ned Hoppin's young dog; Grip and
Grapple, the publican's bull-terriers; Jim Mason's Gyp, foolish and
flirting even now; others there were; and last of all, waddling
heavily in the rear, that scarred Amazon, the Venus.
Out of the house they pattered, silent and unseen, with murder in
their hearts. At last they had found their enemy alone. And slowly,
in a black cloud, like the shadow of death, they dropped down the
slope upon him.
And he saw them coming, knew their errand--as who should better
than the Terror of the Border?--and was glad. Death it might be,
and such an one as he would wish to die-at least distraction from
that long-drawn, haunting pain. And he smiled grimly as he looked
at the approaching crowd, and saw there was not one there but he
had humbled in his time.
He ceased his restless pacing, and awaited them. His great head
was high as he scanned them contemptuously, daring them to
And on they came, marching slow and silent like soldiers at a
funeral: young and old; bobtailed and bull; terrier and collie;
flocking like vultures to the dead. And the Venus, heavy with
years, rolled after them on her bandy legs panting in her hurry lest
she should be late. For had she not the blood of her blood to
So they came about him, slow, certain, murderous, opening out to
cut him off on every side. There was no need. He never thought to
move. Long odds 'twould be--crushingly heavy; yet he loved them
for it, and was trembling already with the glory of the coming
They were up to him now; the sheep-dogs walking round him on
their toes, stiff and short like cats on coals; their hacks a little
humped; heads averted; yet eying him askance.
And he remained stock-still nor looked at them. His great chin was
cocked, and his muzzle wrinkled in a dreadful grin. As he stood
there, shivering a little, his eyes rolling back, his breath grating in
his throat to set every bristle on end, he looked a devil indeed.
The Venus ranged alongside him. No preliminary stage for her;
she never walked where she could stand, or stood where she could
lie. But stand she must now, breathing hard through her nose,
never taking her eyes off that pad she had marked for her own.
Close beside her were crop-eared Grip and Grapple, looking up at
the line above them where hairy neck and shoulder joined. Behind
was big Rasper, and close to him Lassie. Of the others, each had
marked his place, each taken up his post.
Last of all, old Shep took his stand full in front of his enemy, their
shoulders almost rubbing, head past head.
So the two stood a moment, as though they were whispering; each
diabolical, each rolling back his eyes to watch the other. While
from the little mob there rose a snarling, bubbling snore, like some
giant wheezing in his sleep.
Then like lightning each struck. Rearing high, they wrestled with
striving paws and the expression of fiends incarnate. Down they
went, Shep underneath, and the great dog with a dozen of these
wolves of hell upon him. Rasper, devilish, was riding on his back;
the Venus--well for him !--had struck and missed; but Grip and
Grapple had their hold; and the others, like leaping demoniacs,
were plunging into the whirlpool vortex of the fight.
And there, where a fortnight before he had fought and lost the
battle of the Cup, Red Wull now battled for his life.
Long odds! But what cared he? The long-drawn agony of the night
was drowned in that glorious delirium. The hate of years came
bubbling forth. In that supreme moment he would avenge his
wrongs. And he went in to fight, revelling like a giant in the red
lust of killing.
Long odds l Never before had he faced such a galaxy of foes. His
one chance lay in quickness: to prevent the swarming crew getting
their hold till at least he had diminished their numbers.
Then it was a sight to see the great brute, huge as a bull-calf,
strong as a bull, rolling over and over and up again, quick as a
kitten; leaping here, striking there; shaking himself free; swinging
his quarters; fighting with feet and body and teeth--every inch of
him at war. More than once he broke right through the mob; only
to turn again and face it. No flight for him; nor thought of it.
Up and down the slope the dark mass tossed, like some hulk the
sport of the waves. Black and white, sable and gray, worrying at
that great centrepiece. Up and down, roaming wide, leaving
everywhere a trail of red.
Gyp he had pinned and hurled over his shoulder. Grip followed; he
shook her till she rattled, then flung her afar; and she fell with a
horrid thud, not to rise. While Grapple, the death to avenge, hung
tighter. In a scarlet, soaking patch of the ground lay Big Bell's
lurcher, doubled up in a dreadful ball. And Hoppin's young dog,
who three hours before had been the children's tender playmate,
now fiendish to look on, dragged after the huddle up the hill. Back
the mob rolled on her. When it was passed, she lay quite still,
grinning; a handful of tawny hair and flesh in her dead mouth.
So they fought on. And ever and anon a great figi~ire rose up from
the heaving inferno all around; rearing to his full height, his head
ragged and bleeding, the red foam dripping from his jaws. Thus he
would appear momentarily, like some dark rock amid a raging sea;
and down he would go again.
Silent now they fought, dumb and determined. Only you might
have heard the rend and rip of tearing flesh; a hoarse gurgle as
some dog went down; the panting of dry throats; and now and then
a sob from that central figure. For he was fighting for his life. The
Terror of the Border was at bay.
All who meant it were on him now. The Venus, blinded with
blood, had her hold at last; and never but once in a long life of
battles had she let go; Rasper, his breath coming in rattles, had him
horribly by the loins; while a dozen other devils with red eyes and
wrinkled nostrils clung still.
Long odds! And down he went, smothered beneath the weight of
numbers, yet struggled up again. His great head was torn and
dripping; his eyes a gleam of rolling red and white; the little tail
stern and stiff like the gallant stump of a flagstaff shot away. He
was desperate, but indomitable; and he sobbed as he fought
Long odds! It could not last. And down he went at length, silent
still--never a cry should they wring from him in his agony the
Venus glued to that mangled pad; Rasper beneath him now; three
at his throat; two at his ears; a crowd on flanks and body.
The Terror of the Border was down at last!
"Wullie, ma Wullie!" screamed M'Adam, bounding down the slope
a crook's length in front of the rest. "Wullie! Wullie! to me!"
At the shrill cry the huddle below was convulsed. It heaved and
swelled and dragged to and fro, like the sea lashed into life by
some dying leviathan.
A gigantic figure, tawny and red, fought its way to the surface. A
great tossing head, bloody past recognition, flung out from the
ruck. One quick glance he shot from his ragged eyes at the little
flying form in front; then with a roar like a waterfall plunged
toward it, shaking off the bloody leeches as he went.
"Wullie! Wullie! I'm wi' ye!" cried that little voice, now so near.
Through -- through--through! -- an incomparable effort and his
last. They hung to his throat, they clung to his muzzle, they were
round and about him. And down he went again with a sob and a
little suffocating cry, shooting up at his master one quick,
beseeching glance as the sea of blood closed over him --worrying,
smothering, tearing, like foxhounds at the kill.
They left the dead and pulled away the living. And it was no light
task, for the pack were mad for blood.
At the bottom of the wet mess of hair and red and flesh was old
Shep, stone-dead. And as Saunderson pulled the body out, his face
was working; for no man can lose in a crack the friend of a dozen
years, and remain unmoved.
The Venus lay there, her teeth clenched still in death; smiling that
her vengeance was achieved. Big Rasper, blue no longer, was
gasping out his life. Two more came crawling out to find a quiet
spot where they might lay them down to die. Before the night had
fallen another had gone to his account. While not a dog who
fought upon that day but carried the scars of it with him to his
The Terror o' th' Border, terrible in his life, like Samson, was yet
more terrible in his dying.
Down at the bottom lay that which once had been Adam M'Adam's
At the sight the little man neither raved nor swore: it was past that
for him. He sat down, heedless of the soaking ground, and took the
mangled head in his lap very tenderly.
"They've done ye at last, Wullie--they've done ye at last," he said
quietly; unalterably convinced that the attack had been organized
while he was detained in the tap-room.
On hearing the loved little voice, the dog gave one weary wag of
his stump-tail. And with that the Tailless Tyke, Adam M'Adam's
Red Wull, the Black Killer, went to his long home.
One by one the Dalesmen took away their dead, and the little man
was left alone with the body of his last friend.
Dry-eyed he sat there, nursing the dead. dog's head; hour after
hour--alone--crooning to himself:
'Monie a sair daurk we twa hae wrought,
An' wi' the weary wan' fought!
An' mony an anxious day I thought
We wad be beat.'
An' noo we are, Wullie--noo we are!"
So he went on, repeating the lines over and over again, always
with the same sad termination.
"A man's mither--a man's wife--a man's~ dog! they three are a' little
M'Adam iver had~ to back him! D'ye mind the auld mither,
Wullie? And her, 'Niver be down-hearted, Adam; ye've aye got yer
mither,' And ae day I had not. And Flora, Wullie (ye remember
Flora, Wullie? Na, na; ye'd not) wi' her laffin' daffin' manner, eryin'
to one: 'Adam, ye say ye're alane. But ye've me--is that no enough
for ony man?' And God kens it was --while it lasted!" He broke
down and sobbed a while. "And you Wullie--and you! the only
man friend iver I had!" He sought the dog's bloody paw with his
"'An' here's a hand, my trusty flee,
An gie's a hand o' thine;
An' we'll tak' a right guid willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.'
He sat there, muttering, and stroking the poor head upon his lap,
bending over it, like a mother over a sick
"They've done ye at last, lad--done ye sair. And noo I'm thinkin'
they'll no rest content till I'm gone. And oh, Wullie!"--he bent
down and whispered--" I dreamed sic an awfu' thing--that ma
Wullie--but there! 'twas but a dream."
So he sat on, crooning to the dead dog; and no man approached
him. Only Bessie of the inn watched the little lone figure from
It was long past noon when at length he rose, laying the dog's head
reverently down, and tottered away toward that bridge which once
the dead thing on the slope had held against a thousand.
He crossed it and turned; there was a look upon his face, half
hopeful, half fearful, very -piteous to see.
"Wullie, Wullie, to me!" he cried; only the accents, formerly so
fiery, were now weak as a dying man's.
A while he waited in vain.
"Are ye no comin', Wullie?" he asked at length in quavering tones.
"Ye've not used to leave me."
He walked away a pace, then turned again and whistled that shrill,
sharp call, only now it sounded like a broken echo of itself.
"Come to me, Wullie!" he implored, very-pitifully. "'Tis the first
time iver I kent ye not come and me whistlin'. What ails ye, lad?"
He recrossed the bridge, walking blindly like a sobbing child; and
Over the dead body he stooped.
"What ails ye, Wullie?" he asked again. "Will you, too, leave me?"
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,
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
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,
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
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,
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."
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