to him, and what did it all mean. Alas! We
could not tell him; and none of us dare say to each
other that our little comrade in the mystery of life
was going to die. But a silence fell over us
all, and the beautiful grandmother took him into her
care, and so well did her great and wise heart nurse
him through the night that next morning it almost
seemed as though we had been wrong; for a flash of
his old spirit was in him again, and, though his little
legs shook under him, it was plain that he wanted
to try and be up at his day’s work on the veranda,
warning off the passer-by, or in the garden carrying
on his eternal investigations, or farther afield in
the councils and expeditions of his fellows.
So we let him have his way, and for a while he seemed
happier and stronger for the sunshine, and the old
familiar scents and sounds. But the one little
tired husky bark he gave at his old enemy, the Italian
workman, passing by, would have broken your heart;
and the effort he made with a bone, as he visited the
well-remembered neighbourhood of the ice-box for the
last time, was piteous beyond telling. Those
sharp, strong teeth that once could bite and grind
through anything could do nothing with it now.
To lick it sadly with tired lips, in a sort of hopeless
way, was all that was left; and there was really a
look in his face as though he accepted this mortal
defeat, as he lay down, evidently exhausted with his
exertions, on a bank nearby. But once more his
spirit seemed to revive, and he scrambled to his legs
again and wearily crawled to the back of the house,
where the beautiful grandmother loves to sit and look
over the glittering salt-marsh in the summer afternoons.
* * * *
Of course, he knew that she was there. She had
been his best friend in this strange world. His
last effort was naturally to be near her again.
Almost he reached that kind cave of her skirts.
Only another yard or two and he had been there.
But the energy that had seemed irrepressible and everlasting
had come to its end, and the little body had to give
in at last, and lie down wearily once more with no
life left but the love in its fading eyes.
There are some, I suppose, who may wonder how one
can write about the death of a mere dog like this;
and cannot understand how the death of a little terrier
can make the world seem a lonelier place. But
there are others, I know, who will scarce need telling,
men and women with little ghosts of their own haunting
their moonlit gardens; strange, appealing, faithful
companions, kind little friendly beings that journeyed
with them awhile the pilgrimage of the soul.
I often wonder if Teddy misses his little busy playfellow
and disciple as we do; if, perhaps, as he barks over
the marsh of a morning, he is sending him a message.
He goes about the place with nonchalant greatness
as of old, and the Maltese cats still rub their sinuous
smoke-grey bodies to and fro beneath his jaws at evening.
There is no sign of sorrow upon him. But he is
old and very wise, and keeps strange knowledge to
himself. So, who can say?