James buried his wife, with his neighbours mourning, Rab inspecting the solemnity from a distance. It was snow, and that black ragged hole would look strange in the midst of the swelling spotless cushion of white. James looked after everything; then rather suddenly fell ill, and took to bed; was insensible when the doctor came, and soon died. A sort of low fever was prevailing in the village, and his want of sleep, his exhaustion, and his misery, made him apt to take it. The grave was not difficult to reopen. A fresh fall of snow had again made all things white and smooth; Rab once more looked on, and slunk home to the stable.
And what of Rab? I asked for him next week of the new carrier who got the goodwill of James’s business, and was now master of Jess and her cart. “How’s Rab?” He put me off, and said rather rudely, “What’s your business wi’ the dowg?” I was not to be so put off. “Where’s Rab?” He, getting confused and red, and intermeddling with his hair, said, “’Deed, sir, Rab’s deid.” “Dead! what did he die of?” “Weel, sir,” said he, getting redder, “he didna exactly dee; he was killed. I had to brain him wi’ a rack-pin; there was nae doin’ wi’ him. He lay in the treviss wi’ the mear, and wadna come oot. I tempit him wi’ kail and meat, but he wad tak naething, and keepit me frae feedin’ the beast, and he was aye gur gurrin’, and grup gruppin’ me by the legs. I was laith to make awa wi’ the auld dowg, his like wasna atween this and Thornhill—but, ’deed, sir, I could do naething else.” I believed him. Fit end for Rab, quick and complete. His teeth and his friends gone, why should he keep the peace, and be civil?
PETER RUGG, THE MISSING MAN
Sir—Agreeably to my promise, I now relate to you all the particulars of the lost man and child which I have been able to collect. It is entirely owing to the humane interest you seemed to take in the report, that I have pursued the inquiry to the following result.
You may remember that business called me to Boston in the summer of 1820. I sailed in the packet to Providence, and when I arrived there I learned that every seat in the stage was engaged. I was thus obliged either to wait a few hours or accept a seat with the driver, who civilly offered me that accommodation. Accordingly I took my seat by his side, and soon found him intelligent and communicative.
When we had travelled about ten miles, the horses suddenly threw their ears on their necks, as flat as a hare’s. Said the driver, “Have you a surtout with you?” “No,” said I; “why do you ask?” “You will want one soon,” said he; “do you observe the ears of all the horses?” “Yes, and was just about to ask the reason.” “They see the storm-breeder, and we shall see him soon.” At this moment there was not a cloud visible in the firmament. Soon after a small speck appeared in the road. “There,” said my companion,