As a fan of Pansy’s books you may have noticed that Isabella’s characters frequently show up in different stories.
Eagle-eyed readers with good memories often spot them. For example, Brewster is a surname that appears in several of her books:
Her Mother’s Bible
Only Ten Cents
Aunt Hannah and Martha and John
Living a Story
That’s a lot of Brewsters!
But the character that appeared most often in Isabella’s books wasn’t a Brewster at all; in fact, it wasn’t even a person!
The character Isabella wrote about most often was Bose the dog.
Sidney Martin’s Christmas (1879)
Bose first came to life in this short story when he interrupted a group of children singing Christmas carols in their neighborhood:
Just at that very point they stopped every voice, and little Gretchen, the youngest of the group, gave a little squeal that did not belong to the carol. It was plain that something had frightened them. Sidney crossed over to them. Just inside of the gate had appeared old Bose, the great house dog, and he was not a lover of their music, to judge by the low growls with which he greeted it.
“Don’t be afraid,” said Sidney, coming promptly into view. “I know old Bose and he knows me. He is an ill-mannered scamp, but he won’t hurt you so long as I am around. You sing away and I will stand guard.”
Christie’s Christmas (1884)
In this novel, Christie meets Bose when she’s trying to do a good deed, and comes upon an enormous dog that literally knocks her off her feet:
Bow, wow, wow! Here was a fellow who disputed the way with her, and came suddenly towards her, as if the least that he should think of doing was to swallow her at once.
Now it happened that Christie, unusually brave about most things, was dreadfully afraid of a dog.
She gave a pitiful little shriek, and the next thing she knew, she was picking herself out of the meanest looking mud hole she had seen in her trip. The dog had retired to a safe distance, and with his head hung down, and his silly little tail between his legs, was receiving a lecture from a woman with a frowzy head, and sleeves rolled up at the elbow, who appeared in the door of the little house.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself!” she said, shaking her head. “A decent dog you are to be cutting up such tricks! Come along, child; what do you want? There’s no kind of need of your being afraid of that there dog. There ain’t a bigger coward in all Kansas than he is.”
Spun from Fact (1886)
In 1886 Bose made a brief appearance in Spun from Fact as a faithful dog mourning the loss of his young master, Frank:
I slipped out in the yard, and began to coax the old dog into a frolic. He got into a tremendous one at last, and bounded about me in such a ridiculous way that I laughed loud and long, and rolled on the grass in my glee. Just then I looked up on the piazza, and there stood my aunt! I bounded to my feet all in a glow of shame.
But she was smiling as pleasantly as I had ever seen her, although at that minute there were tears in her eyes, and she said, ‘Poor Bose will be grateful to you all day. He misses Frank very much. He used to frolic with him, you know. It is pleasant to hear a merry young voice again in the yard.’
Grandma’s Miracles; Stories Told at Six o’Clock in the Evening (1887)
In this book, Grandma Burton tells the story of Bose, a great, menacing beast who crossed her path when she was a child. She described how:
. . . a great white dog, that looked as ugly as his mistress, glared on me and growled. I was trembling so that I could hardly stand,
Just as I turned the corner by Mr. Willard’s place I heard a low growl, and there stood Bose eyeing me in a way to make my heart beat fast. I was dreadfully afraid of Bose, and with good reason: he had the name of being a very fierce dog; they kept him chained all day. I saw the chain around his neck then, but still I was afraid.
That terrifying dog with the chain around his neck would later play a very important role in young Grandma Burton’s life.
Bose also made appearances in several short stories in The Pansy magazine.
Curiously, Isabella didn’t describe Bose in detail. In fact, Grandma’s Miracles is the only book that tells us his color (white).
But we know Bose was a large dog, perhaps a shepherd, a collie, or even a mastiff, any of which are breeds known to be especially protective of children.
We also know that Bose often appeared menacing at first, only to show that underneath his barks and growls, he was a loyal friend with a heart of gold.
And that was true of many of Isabella’s human characters, too.
Have you ever known a great big dog that frightened little girls, as Bose did? Please tell us about it!
You can read more about the Isabella Alden books mentioned in this post by clicking on the book covers below: