Toby

Toby is the small dog on the Trevillion horse farm in Cornwall featured in Dearest Rogue. I modeled him on a Cardigan Welsh Corgi with black and white fur, but since it’s Lady Phoebe Batten who meets him in the book—and she’s blind—his description doesn’t include what color he is.

“Are you awake?” asked the child in a whisper, the dog panting heavily next to her. “Lady?”

“Good morning,” Phoebe said, causing the dog to bark. She sat up in the bed and waited, but there was no more from the girl. She might even have been holding her breath. “Who are you?” The girl hadn’t been at the door last night—not unless she’d been very quiet and no one had bothered to introduce her to Phoebe.

“I’m Agnes,” the girl replied, as if that were all the introduction she needed. “Granfer says there’s breakfast.”

“Oh, how lovely,” Phoebe said. “Do you know if there might be fresh water for me to wash in?”

“I brought some up. It’s over there,” Agnes said.

Phoebe tilted her head, wondering how old Agnes might be. Old enough to carry a heavy pitcher of water, certainly. She held out her hand to the girl. “Can you lead me to it? I’m blind.”

“Oh! Can’t you see at all?”

“No.” Phoebe smiled to take any edge from the simple word.

“I’ll help you, then.” A small hand was slipped into hers, the fingers thin but strong.

Phoebe pulled back the covers and swiveled her legs out of the bed. Immediately a wet nose snuffled against her toes.

“Back, Toby,” Agnes said sternly, and then in a lower, confiding tone, “Don’t mind him—he sticks his nose in everything, he does. And he barks so loudly it fair hurts my ears. I’ve told him over and over again not to, but he never listens. Granfer says you can’t teach a dog not to bark, for ’tis God’s will that they do, and I guess he’s right enough.”

“I think I met Toby last night,” Phoebe said, lowering her hand cautiously. The nose thoroughly sniffed her fingers and then she was rewarded with a sloppy lick from Toby’s tongue. She stroked back over the dog’s head. He had a long nose—she got another lick as she felt it—big upright ears, and a thick, short coat which her fingers sank into. Though he had a medium-size dog’s body, his legs were quite stubby.

“Aye, he was barking at you then,” Agnes said, her hand still in Phoebe’s. “He woke us all up, but Granfer said we weren’t to go down. But I spied through the stair rails and saw you and himcome in.”