STORIES ABOUT ANIMALS.
PICTURES TO MATCH
FRANCIS C. WOODWORTH,
Editor of "The Youth's Cabinet," Author of "Stories About Birds," &C.
Boston. Phillips, Sampson and Company. 1851. Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, By D. A. Woodworth, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In the following pages are grouped together anecdotes illustrative of the peculiarities of different animals—mostly quadrupeds—their habits, dispositions, intelligence, and affection. Nothing like a scientific treatise of any of these animals has been attempted. I do not even give a generic or specific history of one of them, except so far as they are all casually and incidentally described in these anecdotes. Their natural history, in detail, I leave for others, as the historian or biographer of men, bent only on a record of the thoughts, words, and acts of men, passes by the abstract details, however interesting they may be, of human physiology, and the general characteristics of the species. I have not aimed to introduce to the reader, in this volume, all the animals belonging to the race of quadrupeds, who have a claim to such a distinction. I have preferred rather to make a selection from the great multitude, and to present such facts and anecdotes respecting those selected as shall, while they interest and entertain the young reader, tend to make him familiar with this branch of useful knowledge.
I ought, in justice to myself, to explain the reason why I have restricted my anecdotes almost exclusively to animals belonging to the race of quadrupeds. It is seldom wise, in my judgment, for an author to define, very minutely, any plan he may have, to be developed in future years—as so many circumstances may thwart that plan altogether, or very materially modify it. Yet I may say, in this connection, that the general plan I had marked out for myself, when I set about the task of collecting materials for these familiar anecdotes, is by no means exhausted in this volume, and that, should my stories respecting quadrupeds prove as acceptable to my young friends as I hope, it is my intention eventually to pursue the same, or a similar course, in relation to the other great divisions of the animal kingdom—Birds, Reptiles, Insects, Fishes, etc.
The stories I tell I have picked up wherever I could find them—having been generally content when I have judged a particular story to be, in the first place, a good story, and in the second place, a reliable one. I have not thought it either necessary or desirable, to give, in every case, the source from which I have derived my facts. Some of them I obtained by actual observation; quite as many were communicated by personal friends and casual acquaintances; and by far the greater portion were gleaned from the current newspapers of the day, and from the many valuable works on natural history, published in England and in this country. Among the books I have consulted, I am mostly indebted to the following: Bingley's Anecdotes illustrative of the Instincts of Animals; Knight's Library of Entertaining Knowledge; Bell's Phenomena of Nature; the Young Naturalist's Rambles; Natural History of the Earth and Man; Chambers' Miscellany of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge; Animal Biography; and the Penny Magazine.
The task of preparing this volume for the press has been an exceedingly pleasant one. Indeed, it has been rather recreation than toil, in comparison with other and severer literary labors. I trust my young friends will take as much pleasure in reading these stories as I have taken in collecting them. I hope too, that no one of my readers will fail to discover, as he proceeds, the evidences of the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Being who formed and who controls and governs the animal kingdom. Here, as in every department of nature's works, these evidences abound, if we will but perceive them. Look at them, dear reader, and in your admiration of nature, forget not the love and reverence you owe to nature's God.
The Monkey Tribe
The Ox and Cow
Rover and his Play-fellow
The Dog at his Master's Grave
Nero, saving Little Ellen
The Servant and the Mastiff
The Child discovered by the Indian's Dog
The Dog of St. Bernard, rescuing the Child
Exploit of the New England Dog
A Shepherd Dog feeding a lost Child
A Newfoundland, saving a Child from drowning
The Adventure with the Serpent
The Russian Dog-Sledge
The Skirmish with Wolves
A Scene in the old Wolf Story
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
The Horse watching over the Trumpeter
Parting with the Favorite Horse
Alexander taming Bucephalus
Uncle Peter and his queer Old Mare
The Horse sentenced to die
The Leopard and the Serpent
The Lioness and her Cubs
The Convention of Animals
Portrait of Goldsmith
The Juggler and his Pupils
The Rabbit Trap
Portrait of Cowper
Wonderful Feat of a Goat
The Wounded Traveler
Giotto, sketching among his Sheep
The Invalid and the Sheep
The Ferret Weasel
A Hawk pouncing on a Weasel
Cows, taking their comfort
Stories about Animals.
Whatever may be thought of the somewhat aristocratic pretensions of the lion, as the dog, after all, has the reputation of being the most intelligent of the inferior animals, I will allow this interesting family the precedence in these stories, and introduce them first to the reader. For the same reason, too—because they exhibit such wonderful marks of intelligence, approaching, sometimes, almost to the boundary of human reason—I shall occupy much more time in relating stories about them than about any other animal. Let me see. Where shall I begin? With Rover, my old friend Rover—my companion and play-fellow, when a little boy? I have a good mind to do so; for he endeared himself to me by thousands of acts of kindness and affection, and he has still a place of honor in my memory. He frequently went to school with me. As soon as he saw me get my satchel of books, he was at my side, and off he ran before me toward the school-house. When he had conducted me to school, he usually took leave of me, and returned home. But he came back again, before school was out, so as to be my companion homeward. I might tell a great many stories about the smartness of Rover; but on the whole I think I will forbear. I am afraid if I should talk half an hour about him, some of you would accuse me of too much partiality for my favorite, and would think I had fallen into the same foolish mistake that is sometimes noticed in over-fond fathers and mothers, who talk about a little boy or girl of theirs, as if there never was another such a prodigy. So I will just pass over Rover's wonderful exploits—for he had some, let me whisper it in your ear—and tell my stories about other people's dogs.
"Going to the dogs," is a favorite expression with a great many people. They understand by it a condition in the last degree deplorable. To "go to the dogs," is spoken of as being just about the worst thing that can happen to a poor fellow. I think differently, however. I wish from my heart, that some selfish persons whom I could name would go to the dogs. They would learn there, I am sure, what they have never learned before—most valuable lessons in gratitude, and affection, and self-sacrifice—to say nothing about common sense, a little more of which would not hurt them.
There is an exceedingly affecting story of a dog that lived in Scotland as long ago as 1716: This dog belonged to a Mr. Stewart, of Argyleshire, and was a great favorite with his master. He was a Highland greyhound, I believe. One afternoon, while his master was hunting in company with this dog, he was attacked with inflammation in his side. He returned home, and died the same evening. Some three days afterward his funeral took place, when the dog followed the remains of his master to the grave-yard, which was nearly ten miles from the residence of the family. He remained until the interment was completed, when he returned home with those who attended the funeral. When he entered the house he found the plaid cloak, formerly his master's, hanging in the entry. He pulled it down, and in defiance of all attempts to take it from him, lay on it all night, and would not even allow any person to touch it. Every evening afterward, about sunset, he left home, traveled to the grave-yard, reposed on the grave of his late master all night, and returned home regularly in the morning. But, what was still more remarkable, he could not be persuaded to eat a morsel. Children near the grave-yard, who watched his motions, again and again carried him food; but he resolutely refused it, and it was never known by what means he existed. While at home he was always dull and sorrowful; he usually lay in a sleeping posture, and frequently uttered long and mournful groans.
In the western part of our own country, some years since, an exploit was performed by a Newfoundland dog, which I must tell my readers. It is related by Mrs. Phelan. A man by the name of Wilson, residing near a river which was navigable, although the current was somewhat rapid, kept a pleasure boat. One day he invited a small party to accompany him in an excursion on the river. They set out. Among the number were Mr. Wilson's wife and little girl, about three years of age. The child was delighted with the boat, and with the water lilies that floated on the surface of the river. Meanwhile, a fine Newfoundland dog trotted along the bank of the stream, looking occasionally at the boat, and thinking, perhaps, that he should like a sail himself.
Pleasantly onward went the boat, and the party were in the highest spirits, when little Ellen, trying to get a pretty lily, stretched out her hand over the side of the boat, and in a moment she lost her balance and fell into the river. What language can describe the agony of those parents when they saw the current close over their dear child! The mother, in her terror, could hardly be prevented from throwing herself into the river to rescue her drowning girl, and her husband had to hold her back by force. Vain was the help of man at that dreadful moment; but prayer was offered up to God, and he heard it.
No one took any notice of Nero, the faithful dog. But he had kept his eye upon the boat, it seems. He saw all that was going on; he plunged into the river at the critical moment when the child had sunk to the bottom, and dived beneath the surface. Suddenly a strange noise was heard on the side of the boat opposite to the one toward which the party were anxiously looking, and something seemed to be splashing in the water. It was the dog. Nero had dived to the bottom of that deep river, and found the very spot where the poor child had settled down into her cold, strange cradle of weeds and slime. Seizing her clothes, and holding them fast in his teeth, he brought her up to the surface of the water, a very little distance from the boat, and with looks that told his joy, he gave the little girl into the hands of her astonished father. Then, swimming back to the shore, he shook the water from his long, shaggy coat, and laid himself down, panting, to recover from the fatigue of his adventure.
Ellen seemed for awhile to be dead; her face was deadly pale; it hung on her shoulder; her dress showed that she had sunk to the bottom. But by and by she recovered gradually, and in less than a week she was as well as ever.
But the Glasgow Chronicle tells a story of the most supremely humane dog I ever heard of—so humane, in fact, that his humanity was somewhat troublesome. This dog—a fine Newfoundland—resided near Edinburgh. Every day he was seen visiting all the ponds and brooks in the neighborhood of his master's residence. He had been instrumental more than once in saving persons from drowning. He was respected for his magnanimity, and caressed for his amiable qualities, till, strange as it may be considered, this flattery completely turned his head. Saving life became a passion. He took to it as men take to dram-drinking. Not having sufficient scope for the exercise of his diseased benevolence in the district, he took to a very questionable method of supplying the deficiency. Whenever he found a child on the brink of a pond, he watched patiently for the opportunity to place his fore-paws suddenly on its person, and plunged it in before it was aware. Now all this was done for the mere purpose of fetching them out again. He appeared to find intense pleasure in this nonsensical sort of work. At last the outcry became so great by parents alarmed for their children, although no life was ever lost by the indulgence of such a singular taste, that the poor dog was reluctantly destroyed.
Mr. Bingley, an English writer, has contributed not a little to the amusement and instruction of the young, by a book which he published a few years ago, relating to the instinct of the dog. Among the stories told in this book, are several which I must transfer for my own readers. Here is one about the fatal adventure of a large mastiff with a robber. I shall give it nearly in the words of Mr. Bingley.
Not a great many years ago, a lady, who resided in a lonely house in Cheshire, England, permitted all her domestics, save one female, to go to a supper at an inn about three miles distant, which was kept by the uncle of the girl who remained at home with her mistress. As the servants were not expected to return till the morning, all the doors and windows were as usual secured, and the lady and her companion were about to retire to bed, when they were alarmed by the noise of some persons apparently attempting to break into the house. A large mastiff, which fortunately happened to be in the kitchen, set up a tremendous barking; but this had not the effect of intimidating the robbers.
After listening attentively for some time, the maid-servant discovered that the robbers were attempting to enter the house by forcing their way through a hole under the sunk story in the back kitchen. Being a young woman of courage, she went toward the spot, accompanied by the dog, and patting him on the back, exclaimed, "At him, Caesar!" The dog leaped into the hole, made a furious attack upon the intruder, and gave something a violent shake. In a few minutes all became quiet, and the animal returned with his mouth full of blood. A slight bustle was now heard outside the house, but in a short time all again became still. The lady and servant, too much terrified to think of going to bed, sat up until morning without further molestation. When day dawned they discovered a quantity of blood outside of the wall in the court-yard.
When her fellow-servants came home, they brought word to the girl that her uncle, the inn-keeper, had died suddenly of apoplexy during the night, and that it was intended that the funeral should take place in the course of the day. Having obtained leave to go to the funeral, she was surprised to learn, on her arrival, that the coffin was screwed down. She insisted, however, on taking a last look at the body, which was most unwillingly granted; when, to her great surprise and horror, she discovered that his death had been occasioned by a large wound in the throat. The events of the preceding night rushed on her mind, and it soon became evident to her that she had been the innocent and unwilling cause of her uncle's death. It turned out, that he and one of his servants had formed the design of robbing the house and murdering the lady during the absence of her servants, but that their wicked design had been frustrated by the courage and watchfulness of her faithful mastiff.
There is another anecdote told of a wild Indian dog which I am sure my young friends will like. It is from the same source with the one about the mastiff. A man by the name of Le Fevre, many years ago, lived on a farm in the United States, near the Blue mountains. Those mountains at that time abounded in deer and other animals. One day, the youngest of Le Fevre's children, who was four years old, disappeared early in the morning. The family, after a partial search, becoming alarmed, had recourse to the assistance of some neighbors. These separated into parties, and explored the woods in every direction, but without success. Next day the search was renewed, but with no better result. In the midst of their distress Tewenissa, a native Indian from Anaguaga, on the eastern branch of the river Susquehannah, who happened to be journeying in that quarter, accompanied by his dog Oniah, happily went into the house of the planter with the design of reposing himself. Observing the distress of the family, and being informed of the circumstances, he requested that the shoes and stockings last worn by the child should be brought to him. He then ordered his dog to smell them; and taking the house for a centre, described a semicircle of a quarter of a mile, urging the dog to find out the scent. They had not gone far before the sagacious animal began to bark. The track was followed up by the dog with still louder barking, till at last, darting off at full speed, he was lost in the thickness of the woods. Half an hour after they saw him returning. His countenance was animated, bearing even an expression of joy; it was evident he had found the child—but was he dead or alive? This was a moment of cruel suspense, but it was of short continuance. The Indian followed his dog, and the excellent animal conducted him to the lost child, who was found unharmed, lying at the foot of a great tree. Tewenissa took him in his arms, and returned with him to the distressed parents and their friends, who had not been able to advance with the same speed. He restored little Derick to his father and mother, who ran to meet him; when a scene of tenderness and gratitude ensued, which may be easier felt than described. The child was in a state of extreme weakness, but, by means of a little care, he was in a short time restored to his usual vigor.
In one of the churches at Lambeth, England, there is a painting on a window, representing a man with his dog. There is a story connected with this painting which is worth telling. Tradition informs us that a piece of ground near Westminster bridge, containing a little over an acre, was left to that parish by a pedler, upon condition that his picture, accompanied by his dog, should be faithfully painted on the glass of one of the windows. The parishioners, as the story goes, had this picture executed accordingly, and came in possession of the land. This was in the year 1504. The property rented at that time for about a dollar a year. It now commands a rent of nearly fifteen hundred dollars. The reason given for the pedler's request is, that he was once very poor, when, one day, having occasion to pass across this piece of ground, and being weary, he sat down under a tree to rest. While seated here, he noticed that his dog, who was with him, acted strangely. At a distance of several rods from the place where he sat, the dog busied himself for awhile in scratching at a particular spot of earth, after which he returned to his master, looked earnestly up to his face, and endeavored to draw him toward the spot where he had been digging. The pedler, however, paid but little attention to the movements of the dog, until he had repeated them several times, when he was induced to accompany the dog. To his surprise he found, on doing so, that there was a pot of gold buried there. With a part of this gold he purchased the lot of ground on which it had been discovered, and bequeathed it to the parish on the conditions mentioned above. The pedler and his dog are represented in the picture which ornaments the window of that church. "But is the story a true one?" methinks I hear my little friends inquire. I confess it has the air of one of Baron Munchausen's yarns, and I am somewhat doubtful about it. But that is the tradition in the Lambeth parish, where the picture may still be seen by any body who takes the trouble to visit the place. The story may be true. Stranger things have happened.
Those who have studied geography do not need to be informed that there is a chain of high mountains running through Switzerland, called the Alps. The tops of some of these mountains are covered with snow nearly all the year. In the winter it is very difficult and dangerous traveling over the Alps; for the snow frequently rolls down the sides of the mountain, in a great mass, called an avalanche, and buries the traveler beneath it. On one of these mountains there is the convent of St. Bernard. It is situated ten thousand feet above the base of the mountain, and is on one of the most dangerous passes between Switzerland and Savoy. It is said to be the highest inhabited spot in the old world. It is tenanted by a race of monks, who are very kind to travelers. Among other good services they render to the strangers who pass near their convent, they search for unhappy persons who have been overtaken by sudden storms, and who are liable to perish.
These monks have a peculiar variety of the dog, called the dog of St. Bernard, or the Alpine Spaniel, which they train to hunt for travelers who are overtaken by a storm, and who are in danger of perishing. The dog of St. Bernard is one of the most sagacious of his species. He is covered with thick, curly hair, which is frequently of great service in warming the traveler, when he is almost dead with cold.
One of these dogs, named Barry, had, it was reckoned, in twelve years saved the lives of forty individuals. Whenever the mountain was enveloped in fogs and snow, away scoured Barry, barking and searching all about for any person who might have fallen a victim to the storm. When he was successful in finding any one, if his own strength was insufficient to rescue him, he would run back to the convent in search of assistance.
I think I must translate for my young readers an affecting story about this dog Barry, which I read the other day in a little French book, entitled "Modeles des Enfans." It seems that a great while ago there was a poor woman wandering about these mountains, in the vicinity of the convent of St. Bernard, in company with her son, a very small boy. The story does not inform us what they were doing, and why they were walking in such a dangerous place. Perhaps they were gathering fuel to keep them warm; and very likely when they left home the weather was mild, and that they did not anticipate a storm. However that may be, they were overtaken by an avalanche, the mother was buried beneath it, and the child saw her no more. But I must tell the remainder of the story in the language of the French writer.
"Poor boy! the storm increased; the wind howled, and whirled the snow into huge heaps. In the hope that he might possibly meet a traveler, the child forced his way for awhile through the snow; but at last, exhausted, benumbed with the cold, and discouraged, he fell upon his knees, joined his hands devoutly together, and cried, as he raised his face, bathed in tears, toward heaven, 'O my God! have mercy on a poor child, who has nobody in the world to care for him!' As he lay in the place where he fell down, which was sheltered a little by a rock, he grew colder and colder, and he thought he must die. But still, from time to time, he prayed, 'Have mercy, O my God! on a poor child, who has nobody in the world to care for him!' At last he fell asleep, but was wakened by feeling a warm paw on his face. As he opened his eyes he saw with terror an enormous dog holding his head near his own. He uttered a cry of fear, and started back a little way from the dog. The dog approached the boy again, and tried, after his own fashion, to make the little fellow understand that he came there to do him good, and not to hurt him. Then he licked the face and hands of the child. By and by the child confided in his visitor, and began to entertain a hope that he might yet be saved. When Barry saw that his errand was understood, he lifted his head, and showed the child a bottle covered with willow, which was hanging around his neck. This bottle contained wine, some of which the little fellow drank, and felt refreshed. Then the dog lay down by the side of the child, and gave him the benefit of the heat of his own body for a long time. After this, the dog made a sign for the boy to get upon his back. It was some time before the boy could understand what the sign meant. But it was repeated again and again, and at last the child mounted the back of the kind animal, who carried him safely to the convent."
Here is a capital story about a bloodhound, taken from the excellent book by Mr. Bingley, to which I have before alluded. Aubri de Mondidier, a gentleman of family and fortune, traveling alone through the Forest of Bondy, in France, was murdered, and buried under a tree. His dog, a bloodhound, would not quit his master's grave for several days; till at length, compelled by hunger, he proceeded to the house of an intimate friend of the unfortunate Aubri at Paris, and, by his melancholy howling, seemed desirous of expressing the loss they had both sustained. He repeated his cries, ran to the door, looked back to see if any one followed him, returned to his master's friend, pulled him by the sleeve, and with dumb eloquence, entreated him to go with him. The singularity of all these actions of the dog, added to the circumstance of his coming there without his master, whose faithful companion he had always been, prompted the company to follow the animal. He conducted them to the foot of a tree, where he renewed his howling, scratching the earth with his feet, and significantly entreating them to search the particular spot. Accordingly, on digging, the body of the unhappy Aubri was found.
Some time after, the dog accidentally met the assassin, who is styled, by all the historians who relate the story, the Chevalier Macaire, when, instantly seizing him by the throat, he was with great difficulty compelled to quit his victim. In short, whenever the dog saw the chevalier, he continued to pursue and attack him with equal fury. Such obstinate violence, confined only to Macaire, appeared very extraordinary, especially to those who at once recalled the dog's remarkable attachment to his master, and several instances in which Macaire's envy and hatred to Aubri de Mondidier had been conspicuous.
Additional circumstances increased suspicion, and at length the affair reached the royal ear. The king accordingly sent for the dog, which appeared extremely gentle, till he perceived Macaire in the midst of several noblemen, when he ran fiercely toward him, growling at and attacking him, as usual. Struck with such a combination of circumstantial evidence against Macaire, the king determined to refer the decision to the chance of battle; or, in other words, he gave orders for a combat between the chevalier and the dog. The lists were appointed in the Isle of Notre Dame, then an unenclosed, uninhabited place. Macaire was allowed for his weapon a great cudgel, and an empty cask was given to the dog as a place of retreat, to enable him to recover breath.
Every thing being prepared, the dog no sooner found himself at liberty, than he made for his adversary, running round him and menacing him on every side, avoiding his blows till his strength was exhausted; then springing forward, he seized him by the throat, threw him on the ground, and obliged him to confess his guilt in presence of the king and the whole court. In consequence of this confession, the chevalier, after a few days, was convicted upon his own acknowledgment, and beheaded on a scaffold in the Isle of Notre Dame.
The editor of the Portland (Maine) Advertiser relates the following anecdote: "A gentleman from the country recently drove up to a store in this city, and jumping from his sleigh, left his dog in the care of the vehicle. Presently an avalanche of snow slid from the top of the building upon the sidewalk, which so frightened the horse that he started off down the street at a furious run. At this critical juncture, the dog sprang from the sleigh, and seizing the reins in his mouth, held back with all his strength, and actually reined in the frightened animal to a post at the side of the street, when apparently having satisfied himself that no danger was to be apprehended, he again resumed his station in the sleigh, as unconcerned as if he had only done an ordinary act of duty."
A few years ago a little girl, residing in an inland village in Connecticut—without the consent of her mother, be it remembered—went alone to a pond near by, to play with her brother's little vessel, and fell into the water. She came very near drowning; but a dog belonging to the family, named Rollo, who was not far off, plunged in and drew her to the shore. She was so exhausted, however, that she could not rise, and the dog could not lift her entirely out of the water. But he raised her head a little above the surface, and then ran after help. He found a man, and made use of every expedient in his power to draw him to the spot where he had left the child. At first the stranger paid very little attention to the dog; but by and by he was persuaded something was wrong, and followed the dog to the pond. The little girl was not drowned, though she was quite insensible; and the man lifted her from the water, and saved her life, to the great joy of Rollo, who seemed eager to assist in this enterprise.
Here is a capital story about a shepherd's dog in Scotland. I take the liberty of borrowing it from Bingley's admirable book. The valleys, or glens, as they are called by the natives, which intersect the Grampians, a ridge of rocky and precipitous mountains in the northern part of Scotland, are chiefly inhabited by shepherds. As the pastures over which each flock is permitted to range, extend many miles in every direction, the shepherd never has a view of his whole flock at once, except when it is collected for the purpose of sale or shearing. His occupation is to make daily visits to the different extremities of his pastures in succession, and to turn back, by means of his dog, any stragglers that may be approaching the boundaries of his neighbors.
In one of these excursions, a shepherd happened to carry with him one of his children, an infant some two or three years old. After traversing his pastures for some time, attended by his dog, the shepherd found himself under the necessity of ascending a summit at some distance to have a more extended view of his range. As the ascent was too fatiguing for his child, he left him on a small plain at the bottom, with strict injunctions not to stir from it till his return. Scarcely, however, had he gained the summit, when the horizon was suddenly darkened by one of those thick and heavy fogs which frequently descend so rapidly amid these mountains, as, in the space of a few minutes, almost to turn day into night. The anxious father instantly hastened back to find his child; but, owing to the unusual darkness, and his own trepidation, he unfortunately missed his way in the descent. After a fruitless search of many hours among the dangerous morasses and cataracts with which these mountains abound, he was at length overtaken by night. Still wandering on, without knowing whither, he at length came to the verge of the mist, and, by the light of the moon, discovered that he had reached the bottom of the valley, and was now within a short distance of his cottage. To renew the search that night was equally fruitless and dangerous. He was therefore obliged to return home, having lost both his child and his dog, which had attended him faithfully for years.
Next morning by day-break, the shepherd, accompanied by a band of his neighbors, set out again to seek his child; but, after a day spent in fruitless fatigue, he was at last compelled by the approach of night to descend from the mountain. On returning to his cottage, he found that the dog which he had lost the day before, had been home, and, on receiving a piece of cake, had instantly gone off again. For several successive days the shepherd renewed the search for his child, and still, on returning in the evening disappointed to his cottage, he found that the dog had been there, and, on receiving his usual allowance of cake, had instantly disappeared. Struck with this singular circumstance, he remained at home one day, and when the dog, as usual, departed with his piece of cake, he resolved to follow him, and find out the cause of this strange procedure. The dog led the way to a cataract at some distance from the spot where the shepherd had left his child. The banks of the waterfall, almost joined at the top, yet separated by an abyss of immense depth, presented that abrupt appearance which so often astonishes and appalls the traveler amid the Grampian mountains, and indicates that these stupendous chasms were not the silent work of time, but the sudden effect of some violent convulsion of the earth. Down one of these rugged and almost perpendicular descents the dog began, without hesitation, to make his way, and at last disappeared in a cave, the mouth of which was almost on a level with the torrent. The shepherd with difficulty followed; but, on entering the cave, what were his emotions, when he beheld his infant eating with much satisfaction the cake which the dog had just brought him, while the faithful animal stood by, eyeing his young charge with the utmost complacency! From the situation in which the child was found, it appeared that he had wandered to the brink of the precipice, and either fallen or scrambled down till he reached the cave, which the dread of the torrent had afterward prevented him from quitting. The dog, by means of his scent, had traced him to the spot, and afterward prevented him from starving, by giving up to him his own daily allowance. He appears never to have quitted the child by night or day, except when it was necessary to go for his food, and then he was always seen running at full speed to and from the cottage.
The following story is related on the authority of a correspondent of the Boston Traveler: A gentleman from abroad, stopping at a hotel in Boston, privately secreted his handkerchief behind the cushion of a sofa, and left the hotel, in company with his dog. After walking for some minutes, he suddenly stopped, and said to his dog, "I have left my handkerchief at the hotel, and want it"—giving no particular directions in reference to it. The dog immediately returned in full speed, and entered the room which his master had just left. He went directly to the sofa, but the handkerchief was gone. He jumped upon tables and counters, but it was not to be seen. It proved that a friend had discovered it, and supposing that it had been left by mistake, had retained it for the owner. But Tiger was not to be foiled. He flew about the room, apparently much excited, in quest of the "lost or stolen." Soon, however, he was upon the track; he scented it to the gentleman's coat pocket. What was to be done? The dog had no means of asking verbally for it, and was not accustomed to picking pockets; and, besides, the gentleman was ignorant of his business with him. But Tiger's sagacity did not suffer him to remain long in suspense; he seized the skirt containing the prize, and furiously tore it from the coat, and hastily made off with it, much to the surprise of its owner. Tiger overtook his master, and restored the lost property, receiving his approbation, notwithstanding he did it at the expense of the gentleman's coat. At a subsequent interview, the gentleman refused any remuneration for his torn garment, declaring that the joke was worth the price of his coat.
One day, as a little girl was amusing herself with a child, near Carlisle Bridge, Dublin, and was sportively toying with the child, he made a sudden spring from her arms, and in an instant fell into the river. The screaming nurse and anxious spectators saw the water close over the child, and conceived that he had sunk to rise no more. A Newfoundland dog, which had been accidentally passing with his master, sprang forward to the wall, and gazed wistfully at the ripple in the water, made by the child's descent. At the same instant the dog sprang forward to the edge of the water. While the animal was descending, the child again sunk, and the faithful creature was seen anxiously swimming round and round the spot where he had disappeared. Once more the child rose to the surface; the dog seized him, and with a firm but gentle pressure, bore him to land without injury. Meanwhile a gentleman arrived, who, on inquiry into the circumstances of the transaction, exhibited strong marks of interest and feeling toward the child, and of admiration for the dog that had rescued him from death. The person who had removed the child from the dog turned to show him to the gentleman, when there were presented to his view the well-known features of his own son! A mixed sensation of terror, joy, and surprise, struck him mute. When he had recovered the use of his faculties, and fondly kissed his little darling, he lavished a thousand embraces on the dog, and offered to his master five hundred guineas if he would transfer the valuable animal to him; but the owner of the dog felt too much affection for the useful creature, to part with him for any consideration whatever.
A boatman on the river Thames, in England, once laid a wager that he and his dog would leap from the centre arch of Westminster Bridge, and land at Lambeth within a minute of each other. He jumped off first, and the dog immediately followed; but as he was not in the secret, and fearing that his master would be drowned, he seized him by the neck, and dragged him on shore, to the great diversion of the spectators.
Some years ago, a gentleman of Queen's College, Oxford, went to pass the Christmas vacation at his father's in the country. An uncle, a brother, and other friends, were one day to dine together. It was fine, frosty weather; the two young gentlemen went out for a forenoon's recreation, and one of them took his skates with him. They were followed by a favorite greyhound. When the friends were beginning to long for their return, the dog came home at full speed, and by his apparent anxiety, his laying hold of their clothes to pull them along, and all his gestures, he convinced them that something was wrong. They followed the greyhound, who led them to a piece of water frozen over. A hat was seen on the ice, near which was a fresh aperture. The bodies of the young gentlemen were soon found, but, alas! though every means were tried, life could not be restored.
There is another story which places the sagacity of the greyhound in still stronger light. A Scotch gentleman, who kept a greyhound and a pointer, being fond of coursing, employed the one to find the hares, and the other to catch them. It was, however, discovered, that when the season was over, the dogs were in the habit of going out by themselves, and killing hares for their own amusement. To prevent this, a large iron ring was fastened to the pointer's neck by a leather collar, and hung down so as to prevent the dog from running or jumping over dikes. The animals, however, continued to stroll out to the fields together; and one day, the gentleman suspecting that all was not right, resolved to watch them, and, to his surprise, found that the moment they thought they were unobserved, the greyhound took up the ring in his mouth, and carrying it, they set off to the hills, and began to search for hares, as usual. They were followed; and it was observed that whenever the pointer scented the hare, the ring was dropped, and the greyhound stood ready to pounce upon the game the moment the other drove her from her form; but that he uniformly returned to assist his companion, after he had caught his prey.
Some of the dogs belonging to the gipsies possess a great deal of shrewdness. The gipsies, you know, are a very singular race of people. They are scattered over a great portion of Europe, wandering from place to place, and living in miserable tents, or huts. You can form a pretty correct notion of a gipsy encampment, by the picture on another page. Here you see the gipsy men and women, sitting and standing around a fire, over which is a pot, evidently containing the material for their meal. If you notice the picture carefully, you will observe, also, a little, insignificant looking dog, who is apparently asleep, and, for aught I know, dreaming about the exploits of the day. You will no doubt smile, and wonder what exploits such a cur is able to perform; but I assure you that if he is at all like some of the gipsy dogs I have heard of, he has been taught a good many very shrewd tricks. The dogs of the gipsies are sometimes trained to steal for their masters. The thief enters a store with some respectably dressed man, whom the owner of the dog will commission for the purpose, and—the man having made certain signals to the animal—the gipsy cur, after loitering about the store, perhaps for hours, waiting a favorable opportunity, will steal the articles which were designated, and run away with them to his master's tent.
I made the acquaintance of a dog at Niagara Falls, last summer, who was an ardent admirer of the beautiful and grand in nature. The little steamer called the "Maid of the Mist" makes several trips daily, from a point some two miles down the river, to within a few rods of the Canada Fall. I went up in this boat, one morning, and the trip afforded me one of the finest views I had of this inimitable cataract. Among the passengers in this boat, at the time, was the dog who was so fond of the sublime. He walked leisurely on board, just before the hour of starting, and during the entire excursion seemed to enjoy the scene as much as any of the rest of the passengers. As the boat approached the American Fall, he took his station in the bow, where he remained, completely deluged in the spray, until the boat passed the same Fall, on its return. This, however, is not the most remarkable part of the story. The captain informed me that such was the daily practice of the dog. Every morning, regularly, at the hour of starting, he makes his appearance, though he is not owned by any one engaged in the boat, and treats himself to this novel excursion.
There is a dog living on Staten Island, who has for some time been acting the part of a philanthropist, on a large scale. He makes it a great share of his business to administer to the necessities of the sick and infirm dogs in the neighborhood. As soon as he learns that a dog is sick, so that he is unable to take care of himself, he visits the invalid, and nurses him; and he even goes from house to house, searching out those who need his assistance. Frequently he brings his patient to his own kennel, and takes care of him until he either gets well or dies. Sometimes he has two or three sick dogs in his hospital, at the same time. I have these facts on the authority of my friend Mr. Ranlett, the editor of the "Architect," a gentleman of unquestionable veracity, who has seen the dog thus imitating the example of the Good Samaritan.
Captain Parry, an adventurous sailor, who went out from England on a voyage of discovery in the northern seas, relates some amusing anecdotes about the dogs among the Esquimaux Indians. These dogs are trained to draw a vehicle called a sledge, made a little like what we call a sleigh. In some parts of Russia many people travel in the same manner. Here is a picture of one of the Russian sledges. It is made in very handsome style, as you see. The greater portion of them are constructed much more rudely. The Esquimaux Indian is famous for his feats in driving dogs. When he wants to take a ride, he harnesses up several pairs of these dogs, and off he goes, almost as swift as the wind. The dogs are rather unruly, however, sometimes, and get themselves sadly snarled together, so that the driver is obliged to go through the harnessing process several times in the course of a drive of a few miles. When the road is level and pretty smoothly worn, eight or ten dogs, with a weight only of some six or seven hundred pounds attached to them, are almost unmanageable, and will run any where they choose at the rate of ten miles an hour.
The following anecdote we have on the authority of the Newark (N. J.) Daily Advertiser: An officer of the army, accompanied by his dog, left West Point on a visit to the city of Burlington, N. J., and while there, becoming sick, wrote to his wife and family at West Point, in relation to his indisposition. Shortly after the reception of his letter, the family were aroused by a whining, barking and scratching, at the door of the house, and when opened to ascertain the cause, in rushed the faithful dog. After being caressed, and every attempt made to quiet him, the dog, in despair at not being understood, seized a shawl in his teeth, and, placing his paws on the lady's shoulders, deposited there the shawl! He then placed himself before her, and, fixing his gaze intently upon her, to attract her attention, seized her dress, and began to drag her to the door. The lady then became alarmed, and sent for a relative, who endeavored to allay her fears, but she prevailed upon him to accompany her at once to her husband, and on arriving, found him dangerously ill in Burlington. The distance traveled by the faithful animal, and the difficulties encountered, render this exploit almost incredible, especially as the boats could not stop at West Point, on account of the ice, it being in the winter.
There is a dog in the city of New York, who, according to unquestionable authority, is accustomed every day not only to bring his mistress the morning paper, as soon as it is thrown into the front yard, but to select the one belonging to the lady, when, as is frequently the case, there is one lying with it belonging to another member of the family.
An unfortunate dog, living in England, in order to make sport for some fools, had a pan tied to his tail, and was sent off on his travels toward a village a few miles distant. He reached the place utterly exhausted, and lay down before the steps of a tavern, eyeing most anxiously the horrid annoyance hung behind him, but unable to move a step further, or rid himself of the torment. Another dog, a Scotch colly, came up at the time, and seeing the distress of his crony, laid himself down gently beside him, and gaining his confidence by a few caresses, proceeded to gnaw the string by which the noisy appendage was attached to his friend's tail, and by about a quarter of an hour's exertion, severed the cord, and started to his legs, with the pan hanging from the string in his mouth, and after a few joyful capers around his friend, departed on his travels, in the highest glee at his success.
The Albany Journal tells us of a dog in that city, who has formed the habit of regarding a shadow with a great deal of interest. In this particular, he is not unlike some people that one occasionally meets with, who spend their whole time following shadows. The story of the Albany editor is thus told: Those who are in the habit of frequenting the post-office, between the hours of six and eight in the evening, have doubtless noticed the singular wanderings of a dog near the first swing door, without knowing the cause of his mysterious actions. The hall is lighted with gas, and the burner is placed between the two doors. When the outer door swings, the frame-work of the sash throws a moving shadow on the wall, beneath the structure, which, from its peculiar movement toward the floor, has attracted the notice of this dog. He watches it as sharp as if it were a mouse, and although his labors have been fruitless, yet he still continues nightly to grace this place with his presence. Several attempts have been made to draw his attention from the object, with but little success; for though his attention may be diverted, it is soon lost, as the instant his eye catches the shadow, he renews his watchings. In all his movements he is very harmless, and he neither injures nor even molests those who have occasion to pass through the hall.
As a farmer of good circumstances, who resided in the county of Norfolk, England, was taking an excursion to a considerable distance from home, during the frosts in the month of March 1795, he at length was so benumbed by the intense cold, that he became stupefied, and so sleepy that he found himself unable to proceed. He lay down, and would have perished on the spot, had not a faithful dog, which attended him, as if sensible of his dangerous situation, got on his breast, and, extending himself over him, preserved the circulation of his blood. The dog, so situated for many hours, kept up a continual barking, by which means, and the assistance of some passengers, the farmer was roused, and led to a house, where he soon recovered.
From an authentic source I have obtained an incident of recent occurrence, which painfully illustrates the fury of the wolf, while engaged at a favorite meal. Near Lake Constance, in Canada, two men observed some wolves engaged in eating a deer. One of them, named Black, went to dispute the prize with these ravenous animals, when he unfortunately fell a victim to his rashness, the wolves having devoured him, leaving only a small portion of his bones.
Some three years since, while traveling in Canada, I met a lady who resided with a brother in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, a few hundred miles north of Montreal. This lady informed me that she had not unfrequently been chased by wolves, while proceeding to the house of her nearest neighbor—about ten miles distant—and that a pack of them, unusually hungry, once seemed very much determined to pull her from her horse, though they finally made up their minds that they would try their fortunes in another direction.
It sometimes, though not very frequently happens, that several wolves together attack men who travel on horseback, and fight furiously. A story is told of two men who were traveling in this manner in Mexico, when two or three wolves, who, one would suppose, had fasted a good while, fell upon the men and their horses, and it was a matter of some doubt, for a time, who would be the victors, the travelers or their assailants. The former were armed with pistols, too. The wolves got the worst of the battle, however, at last, and they retreated, as men very often do when they go to war with each other—having gained nothing but a broken limb or two, which they boast of for the remainder of their lives.
A peasant in Russia was one day riding along, when he found that he was pursued by eleven wolves. Being about two miles from home he urged his horse to the very extent of his speed. At the entrance to his residence was a gate, which being shut at the time, the frightened horse dashed open, and carried his master safely into the yard. Nine of the wolves followed the man and his horse into the inclosure, when fortunately, the gate swung back, and caught them all as it were in a trap. Finding themselves caught in this manner, the wolves seemed to lose all their courage and ferocity. They shrunk away, and tried to hide themselves instead of pursuing their prey, and they were all killed with very little difficulty.
The following story of an encounter with a saucy wolf in the south-western part of the United States, is taken from the journal of a Santa Fe trader: "I shall not soon forget an adventure with a furious wolf, many years ago, on the frontiers of Missouri. Riding near the prairie border, I perceived one of the largest and fiercest of the gray species, which had just descended from the west, and seemed famished to desperation. I at once prepared for a chase; and being without arms, I caught up a cudgel, when I betook me valiantly to the charge, much stronger, as I soon discovered, in my cause than in my equipment. The wolf was in no humor to flee, however, but boldly met me full half way. I was soon disarmed, for my club broke upon the animal's head. He then 'laid to' my horse's legs, which, not relishing the conflict, gave a plunge, and sent me whirling over his head, and made his escape, leaving me and the wolf at close quarters. I was no sooner upon my feet than my antagonist renewed the charge; but being without a weapon, or any means of awakening an emotion of terror, save through his imagination, I took off my large black hat, and using it for a shield, began to thrust it toward his gaping jaws. My ruse had the desired effect; for after springing at me a few times, he wheeled about, and trotted off several paces, and stopped to gaze at me. Being apprehensive that he might change his mind, and return to the attack, and conscious that, under the compromise, I had the best of the bargain, I very resolutely took to my heels, glad of the opportunity of making a drawn game, though I had myself given the challenge." A friend of mine, who visited Texas a little while ago, gives quite an interesting account of a ride he had through an uninhabited part of that country, where wolves were abundant. He says: "As there was no road, I was obliged to take the prairie. My conveyance was a mule, which is, by the way, the best for a long journey in this country, as it is far more capable of endurance than a horse. When I had rode about five miles, I found that I had lost my course; and as the sun was clouded, I had no means of guessing at the route. But I pushed on, and soon found myself in a dense grove of live oak. Here I heard a distinct barking, and thought I must be near a house. I rode toward the place whence the noise seemed to proceed, but soon found that I had committed a most egregious error; for I was in the very midst of a pack of wolves, consisting of about a dozen. As you may suppose, I was terribly frightened, though I had heard that wolves in the country seldom molest any one traveling on horseback. Still, this interesting party appeared singularly fierce and hungry, and I opened a large clasp knife, the only available weapon I had, in order to be prepared for the contemplated attack. In this way I rode on about a mile, with the wolves after me, when the whole force quietly dispersed. After riding about three hours more, I discovered that I had been on the wrong track all the time, though I was not sure where I was; but it was so dark it was not safe to go further. So I spread my cloak on the grass, tied my mule up to a tree, made my saddle into a pillow, and, thus prepared, lay down for the night. I thought of wolves and snakes for some time, but being very tired, soon went to sleep."
[Footnote 1: A drawn game at chess, as some of my readers may not be aware, is one in which neither party is the victor.]
The wolf is capable of strong attachments, and has been known to cherish the memory of a friend for a great length of time. A wolf belonging to the menagerie in London, met his old keeper, after three years' absence. It was evening when the man returned, and the wolf's den was shut up from any external observation; yet the instant the man's voice was heard, the faithful animal set up the most anxious cries; and the door of his cage being opened, he rushed toward his friend, leaped upon his shoulders, licked his face, and threatened to bite his keepers on their attempting to separate them. When the man ultimately went away, he fell sick, was long on the verge of death, and would never after permit a stranger to approach him.
Captain Franklin, in his journal of a voyage in the Polar seas, mentions seeing white wolves there, and gives an account which shows the wolf to be quite a cunning animal. A number of deer, says the captain, were feeding on a high cliff, when a multitude of wolves slily encircled the place, and then rushed upon the deer, scaring them over the precipice, where they were crushed to death by the fall. The wolves then came down, and devoured the deer at their leisure.
When I was quite a little boy, it used to be the fashion for many people to fill children's heads with all manner of frightful stories about wolves, and bears, and gentry of that sort—stories that had not a word of truth in them, and which did a great deal of mischief. I remember to this day, the horror I used to have, when obliged to go away alone in the dark. Many a time I have looked behind me, thinking it quite likely that a furious wolf was at my heels. The reason for this foolish fear—for it was foolish, of course—was, that a servant girl, in the employ of my mother, used to tell me scores of stories in which wolves always played a very prominent part. I remember one story in particular, which cost me a world of terror. The principal scene in the tale, and the one which most frightened me, was at the time pictured so strongly on my imagination, that it never entirely wore off. It was much after this fashion. The wolf's jaws were opened wide enough to take a poor fellow's head in, and fancy pictured that event as being about to happen scores of times. Indeed, the nurse told me, over and over again, that unless I kept out of mischief—which I did not always, I am sorry to say—I should be sure to come to some such end. Boys and girls, if you have ever heard such stories, don't let them trouble you for a moment. There is not a word of truth in them. I know how you feel—some of you who are quite young, and who have been entertained with stories of this class—when any body asks you to go alone into a dark room. You are afraid of something, and for your life cannot tell what. I should not wonder very much if some of you were afraid of the dark. I have heard children talk about being afraid of the dark. You laugh, perhaps. It is rather funny—almost too funny to be treated seriously. Well, if it is not the dark, what is it you are afraid of? Your parents, and others who are older than you, are alone in the dark a thousand times in the course of a year. Did you ever hear them say any thing about meeting a single one of the heroes of the frightful stories you have heard? Do you think they ever came across a ghost, or an apparition, or a fairy, or an elf, or a witch, or a hobgoblin, or a giant, or a Blue-Beard, or a wolf? It makes you smile to think of it. Well, then, after all, don't you think it would be a great deal wiser and better to turn all these foolish fancies out of your head, just as one would get rid of a company of saucy rats and mice that were doing mischief in the cellar or corn-house? I think so.
Before I have done with the wolf, I must recite that fable of AEsop's, about one who dressed himself up in the garb of a sheep, to impose upon the shepherd, but who shared a very different fate from the one he anticipated.
A wolf, clothing himself in the skin of a sheep, and getting in among the flock, by this means took the opportunity to devour many of them. At last the shepherd discovered him, and cunningly fastening a rope about his neck, tied him up to a tree which stood hard by. Some other shepherds happening to pass that way, and observing what he was about, drew near and expressed their amazement. "What," says one of them, "brother, do you make a practice of hanging sheep?" "No," replies the other; "but I make a practice of hanging a wolf whenever I catch him, though in the habit and garb of a sheep." Then he showed them their mistake, and they applauded the justice of the execution. The moral of this fable is so plain, that it is quite useless to repeat it.
Of all the animals which have been pressed into the service of man, the horse, perhaps, is the most useful. What could we do without the labor of this noble and faithful animal? Day after day, and year after year, he toils on for his master, seldom complaining, when he is well treated, seldom showing himself ungrateful to his friends, and sometimes exhibiting the strongest attachment.
The following story is a matter of history, and is told by one who was a witness of most of the facts connected with it: During the peninsular war in Europe, the trumpeter of a French cavalry corps had a fine charger assigned to him, of which he became passionately fond, and which, by gentleness of disposition and uniform docility, equally evinced its affection. The sound of the trumpeter's voice, the sight of his uniform, or the twang of his trumpet, was sufficient to throw this animal into a state of the greatest excitement; and he appeared to be pleased and happy only when under the saddle of his rider. Indeed he was unruly and useless to every body else; for once, on being removed to another part of the forces, and consigned to a young officer, he resolutely refused to perform his evolutions, and bolted straight to the trumpeter's station, and there took his stand, jostling alongside his former master. This animal, on being restored to the trumpeter, carried him, during several of the peninsular campaigns, through many difficulties and hair-breadth escapes. At last the corps to which he belonged was worsted, and in the confusion of retreat the trumpeter was mortally wounded. Dropping from his horse, his body was found, many days after the engagement, stretched on the ground, with the faithful old charger standing beside it. During the long interval, it seems that he had never left the trumpeter's side, but had stood sentinel over his corpse, as represented in the engraving, scaring away the birds of prey, and remaining totally heedless of his own privations. When found, he was in a sadly reduced condition, partly from loss of blood through wounds, but chiefly from want of food, of which, in the excess of his grief, he could not be prevailed on to partake.
In a book called "Sketches of the Horse," is an anecdote which exhibits the intelligence of this animal in perhaps a still stronger light. A farmer, living in the neighborhood of Bedford, in England, was returning home from market one evening in 1828, and being somewhat tipsy, rolled off his saddle into the middle of the road. His horse stood still; but after remaining patiently for some time, and not observing any disposition in his rider to get up and proceed further, he took him by the collar and shook him. This had little or no effect, for the farmer only gave a grumble of dissatisfaction at having his repose disturbed. The animal was not to be put off by any such evasion, and so applied his mouth to one of his master's coat-laps, and after several attempts, by dragging at it, to raise him upon his feet, the coat-lap gave way. Three individuals who witnessed this extraordinary proceeding then went up, and assisted the man in mounting his horse.
My father had a horse, when I was a little boy, that was quite a pet with the whole family. We called him Jack, and he knew his name as well as I did. The biography of the old veteran would be very interesting, I am sure, if any body were to write it. I do not mean to be his biographer, however, though my partiality for him will be a sufficient apology for a slight sketch.
Old Jack was a very intelligent horse. He would always come when he heard his name called, let him be ever so far distant in the pasture; that is, if he had a mind to come. Of course, being a gentleman of discernment, he sometimes chose to stay where he was, and enjoy his walk. This was especially the case when the grass was very green, and when the person who came for him chanced to be a little green also. Jack had his faults, it cannot be denied, and among them, perhaps the most prominent one was a strong aversion to being caught by any body but my father, whom he seemed to regard as having the sole right to summon him from the pasture. I used occasionally to try my hand at catching him. In fact, I succeeded several times, by stratagem only. I carried a measure containing a few gills of oats with me into the field; and his love for oats was so much stronger than his dislike of the catching process, that I secured him. But after a while the old fellow became too cunning for me. He came to the conclusion that the quantity of his favorite dish was too small to warrant him in sacrificing his freedom. He had some knowledge of arithmetic, you see. Certainly he must have cyphered as far as loss and gain. One day I went into the pasture with my bridle concealed behind me, and just about enough oats to cover the bottom of my measure, and advanced carefully toward the spot where old Jack was quietly grazing in the meadow. He did not stir as I approached. He held up his head a little, and seemed to be thinking what it was best to do. I drew nearer, encouraged, of course. The cunning fellow let me come within a few feet of him, and then suddenly wheeled around, threw his heels into the air, a great deal too near my head, and then started off at full gallop, snorting his delight at the fun, and seeming to say, "I am not quite so great a fool as you suppose."
Still, old Jack was kind and gentle. My father never had any trouble with him, and many a long mile have I rode after him, when he went over the ground like a bird. I loved him, with all his faults; I loved him dearly, and when he was sold, we all had a long crying spell about it. I remember the time well, when the man who purchased our old pet came to take him away. I presume the man was kind enough, but really I never could forgive him for buying the horse. He was rather a rough-looking man, and he laughed a good deal when we told him he must be good to Jack, and give him plenty of oats, and not make him work too hard. I went out, with my sister, to bid our old friend a last sad good-bye. We carried him some green grass—we knew how well he loved grass, he had given us proof enough of that—and while he was eating it, and the man was preparing to take him away, we talked to old Jack till the tears stood in our eyes; we told him how sorry we were to part with him; and he seemed to be sad, too, for he stopped eating his grass, and looked at us tenderly, while we put our arms around his neck and caressed him for the last time.
I have had a great many pets since—cats and dogs, squirrels and rabbits, canary birds and parrots—but never any that I loved more than I did old Jack; and to this day I am ashamed of the deception I practiced upon him in the matter of the oats, when trying to catch him. I don't wonder he resented the trick, and played one on me in return.
But I am transgressing the rule I laid down for myself in the outset of these stories—not to prate much about my own pets. According to this rule, I ought to have touched much more lightly upon the life and times of old Jack.
A correspondent of the Providence (R. I.) Journal, gives an account of a horse in his neighborhood that was remarkably fond of music. "A physician," he says, "called daily to visit a patient opposite to my place of residence. We had a piano in the room on the street, on which a young lady daily practiced for several hours in the morning. The weather was warm, and the windows were open, and the moment the horse caught the sound of the piano, he would deliberately wheel about, cross the street, place himself as near the window as possible, and there, with ears and eyes dilating, would he quietly stand and listen till his owner came for him. This was his daily practice. Sometimes the young lady would stop playing when the doctor drove up. The horse would then remain quietly in his place; but the first stroke of a key would arrest his attention, and half a dozen notes would invariably call him across the street. I witnessed the effect several times."
There was a show-bill printed during the reign of Queen Anne, a copy of which is still to be seen in one of the public libraries in England, to the following effect: "To be seen, at the Ship, upon Great Tower Hill, the finest taught horse in the world. He fetches and carries like a spaniel dog. If you hide a glove, a handkerchief, a door key, a pewter spoon, or so small a thing as a silver twopence, he will seek about the room till he has found it, and then he will bring it to his master. He will also tell the number of spots on a card, and leap through a hoop; with a variety of other curious performances."
The story of Alexander the Great, and his favorite horse Bucephalus, doubtless most of my readers have heard before. Bucephalus was a war-horse of a very high spirit, which had been sent to Philip, Alexander's father, when the latter was a boy. This horse was taken out into one of the parks connected with the palace, and the king and many of his courtiers went to see him. The horse pranced about so furiously, that every body was afraid of him. He seemed perfectly unmanageable. No one was willing to risk his life by mounting such an unruly animal. Philip, instead of being thankful for the present, was inclined to be in ill humor about it. In the mean time, the boy Alexander stood quietly by, watching all the motions of the horse, and seeming to be studying his character. Philip had decided that the horse was useless, and had given orders to have him sent back to Thessaly, where he came from. Alexander did not much like the idea of losing so fine an animal, and begged his father to allow him to mount the horse. Philip at first refused, thinking the risk was too great. But he finally consented, after his son had urged him a great while. So Alexander went up to the horse, and took hold of his bridle. He patted him upon the neck, and soothed him with his voice, showing him, at the same time, by his easy and unconcerned manner, that he was not in the least afraid of him. Bucephalus was calmed and subdued by the presence of Alexander. He allowed himself to be caressed. Alexander turned his head in such a direction as to prevent his seeing his own shadow, which had before appeared to frighten him. Then he threw off his cloak, and sprang upon the back of the horse, and let him go as fast as he pleased. The animal flew across the plain, at the top of his speed, while the king and his courtiers looked on, at first with extreme fear, but afterward with the greatest admiration and pleasure. When Bucephalus had got tired of running, he was easily reined in, and Alexander returned to the king, who praised him very highly, and told him that he deserved a larger kingdom than Macedon. Alexander had a larger kingdom, some years after—a great deal larger one—though that is a part of another story.
Bucephalus became the favorite horse of Alexander, and was very tractable and docile, though full of life and spirit. He would kneel upon his fore legs, at the command of his master, in order that he might mount more easily. A great many anecdotes are related of the feats of Bucephalus, as a war-horse. He was never willing to have any one ride him but Alexander. When the horse died, Alexander mourned for him a great deal. He had him buried with great solemnity, and built a small city upon the spot of his interment, which he named, in honor of his favorite, Bucephalia.
An odd sort of an old mare, called by her master Nancy, used to go by my father's house, when I was a child. She was the bearer of Peter Packer—Uncle Peter, as he was sometimes called by the good people in our neighborhood—and he was the bearer of the weekly newspaper, and was, withal, quite as odd as his mare. As long as I can remember, Uncle Peter went his weekly rounds, and for aught I know, he is going to this day. No storm, or tempest, or snow-bank, could detain him, that is, not longer than a day or two, in his mission. He was a very punctual man—in other words, he always paced leisurely along, some time or another. Speaking of pacing, reminds me that the mare aforesaid belonged to that particular class and order called pacers, from their peculiar gait. I should think, too, that the mare was not altogether unlike the celebrated animal on which Don Quixote rode in pursuit of wind-mills, and things of that sort. But she had one peculiarity which is not set down in the description of Rozinante, to wit: the faculty of diagonal or oblique locomotion. This mare of Uncle Peter's went forward something after the fashion of a crab, and a little like a ship with the wind abeam, as the sailors would say. It was a standing topic of dispute among us school-boys, whether the animal went head foremost or not. But that did not matter much, practically, it is true, so that she always made her circuit; and that she did, as I have said before. Sometimes she was a day or two later than usual. But that seldom occurred except in the summer season; and when it did happen, it was on this wise: she had a most passionate love for the study of practical botany; and not being allowed, when at home, to pursue her favorite science as often as she wished, owing partly to a want of specimens, and partly to her master's desire to educate her in the more solid branches—he was a great advocate for the solid branches—she frequently took the liberty to divest herself of her bridle, when standing at the door of her master's customers, and to pace away in search of the dear flowers. Oh, she was a devoted student of botany! so much so, that her desire to obtain botanical specimens did sometimes interfere a good deal with her other literary and scientific engagements. She used to do very nearly as she chose. Uncle Peter seldom crossed her in her inclinations. If she was pacing along the highway, and felt a little thirsty, she never hesitated to stop, whether her master invited her to do so or not, at a brook or a watering-trough. Uncle Peter used to say, that he never tried to prevent these liberties but once, and he had occasion to repent bitterly of that. A thunder-storm was coming on, and he was in a hurry to get to the next house. But the mare was determined, before she went any further, to stop at a stream of water and drink. He set out to have his way—Nancy set out to have hers. The result was, that Peter was obliged to yield. But that was not the worst of it. The old mare was so much vexed because her master disputed her will, that while she was standing in the brook, she threw up her hind feet and let him fall over her head into the water. That gentle correction cured Uncle Peter. She had her own way after the ducking.
Horses have been known to cherish a strong attachment for each other. In one of the British wars called the peninsular war, two horses, who had long been associated together, assisting in dragging the same piece of artillery, became so much attached to each other as to be inseparable companions. At length one of them was killed in battle. After the engagement was over, the other horse was attended to, as usual, and his food was brought to him. But he refused to eat, and was constantly turning his head to look for his former companion, sometimes neighing, as if to call her. All the attention which was bestowed upon him was of no avail. Though surrounded by other horses, he took no notice of them, but was continually mourning for his lost friend. Shortly after he died, having refused to taste any food from the day his companion was killed.
An old Shetland pony was so much attached to a little boy, his master, that he would place his fore feet in the hands of the boy, like a dog, thrust his head under his arm, to court his caresses, and join with him and a little dog in their noisy rompings. The same animal daily carried his master to school. He would even walk alone from the stable to the school-house, to bring the boy home, and sometimes he would wait hours for him, having come much too early.
But I have occupied the reader's attention long enough with stories of the horse, interesting and noble as this animal is. I must, however, before I pass to another subject, recite a touching ballad, from one of our sweetest bards.
And hast thou fixed my doom, kind master, say? And wilt thou kill thy servant, old and poor? A little longer let me live, I pray— A little longer hobble round thy door.
For much it glads me to behold this place, And house me in this hospitable shed; It glads me more to see my master's face, And linger on the spot where I was bred.
For oh! to think of what we have enjoyed, In my life's prime, ere I was old and poor; Then, from the jocund morn to eve employed, My gracious master on my back I bore.
Thrice told ten happy years have danced along, Since first to thee these wayworn limbs I gave; Sweet smiling years, when both of us were young— The kindest master, and the happiest slave!
Ah, years sweet smiling, now forever flown! Ten years thrice told, alas! are as a day; Yet, as together we are aged grown, Together let us wear that age away.
For still the olden times are dear to thought, And rapture marked each minute as it flew; Light were our hearts, and every season brought Pains that were soft, and pleasures that were new.
And hast thou fixed my doom, sweet master, say? And wilt thou kill thy servant, old and poor? A little longer let me live, I pray— A little longer hobble round thy door.
But oh! kind Nature, take thy victim's life! End thou a servant, feeble, old, and poor! So shalt thou save me from the uplifted knife, And gently stretch me at my master's door.
The Panther and Leopard.
Leopards and panthers are very similar in their appearance and habits; so much so, that I shall introduce them both in the same chapter. The engraving represents a panther. He is in some danger from the serpent near him, I am inclined to think.
A panther is spoken of by an English lady, Mrs. Bowdich, who resided for some time in Africa, as being thoroughly domesticated. He was as tame as a cat, and much more affectionate than cats usually are. On one occasion, when he was sick, the boy who had charge of him slept in his den, and held the patient a great part of the time in his arms, and the poor fellow appeared to be soothed by the care and attention of his nurse. He had a great partiality for white people, probably because he had been tamed by them; and the lady who gives this account of him was his especial favorite. Twice each week she used to take him some lavender water, which he was very fond of, and seized with great eagerness. He allowed the children to play with him; and sometimes, when he was sitting in the window, gazing upon what was going on below, the little urchins would pull him down by the tail. It would seem to be rather a dangerous experiment. But the panther let his play-fellows enjoy the sport. I suppose he thought that though it was not very pleasant to him, he would make the sacrifice of a little comfort rather than to get angry and revenge himself. Besides, he might have said to himself, "These boys like the sport pretty well; I should guess it was capital fun for them; it is a pity to rob them of their amusement it does not hurt me much, and I will let it go; they don't mean any harm; they are the kindest, best-natured children in the world; they would go without their own dinner, any day, rather than see me suffer." If the panther said this to himself, it was a very wise and sensible speech; and if he did not say it, my little readers may consider me as the author of it. I am satisfied, whether the panther has the credit of making the remarks or whether I have it, so that my young friends get the benefit of the lesson.
In their wild state these animals are very destructive. The same lady who tells the story about the tame panther, says that in one case a panther leaped through an open window near her residence, and killed a little girl who happened to be the only occupant of the house at the time, except a man who was asleep.
The tame leopard is often used in India for the purpose of hunting antelopes. He is carried in a kind of small wagon, blindfolded, to the place where the herd of antelopes are feeding. The reason they blindfold him is to prevent his being too much in a hurry, so that he might make choice of an animal which is not worth much. He does not fly at his prey at once, when let loose, but, winding along carefully, conceals himself, until an opportunity offers for his leap; and then, with five or six bounds, made with amazing force and rapidity, overtakes the herd, and brings his prey to the ground.
I have read a very serious story of an American panther. The lady, who is the heroine of the story, and her husband, were among the first settlers in the wilderness of one of our western states. They at first lived in a log cabin. The luxury of glass was unknown in that wild place among the forests, and consequently light and air were admitted through holes which were always open. Both husband and wife had been away from home for a day or two; and on their return, they found some deer's flesh, which had been hanging up inside, partly eaten, and the tracks of an animal, which the gentleman supposed were those of a large dog. He was again obliged to leave home for a night, and this time the lady remained in the house alone. She went to bed; and soon after, she heard an animal climbing up the outside of the hut, and jump down through one of the openings into the adjoining room, with which her sleeping apartment was connected by a doorway without a door. Peeping out, she saw a huge panther, apparently seeking for prey, and of course very hungry and fierce. She beat against the partition between the rooms, and screamed as loudly as she could, which so frightened the panther that he jumped out. He was, however, soon in again, and a second time she frightened him away in the same manner, when she sprang out of bed, and went to the fire-place, in the hope of making a sufficient blaze to keep the panther from entering again. But the embers were too much burned, and would send out but a slight flame. What could the poor woman do? She thought of getting under the bed; but then she reflected that the animal would find no difficulty in getting at her in that situation, in which case he would tear her in pieces before she could make any resistance.
The only plan which then occurred to her mind for perfect security, was to get into a large sea-chest of her husband's, which was nearly empty. Into that she accordingly crept. But there was danger of her being smothered in this retreat; so she put her hand between the edge of the chest and the lid, in order to keep the chest open a little, and admit the air. Fortunately this lid hung over the side of the chest a little, which saved her fingers. The panther soon came back again, as was anticipated; and after snuffing about for some time, evidently discovered where the lady was, and prowled round and round the chest, licking and scratching the wood close to her fingers. There she lay, scarcely daring to move, and listening intently to every movement of her enemy. At last, he jumped on the top of the chest. His weight crushed her fingers terribly; but she was brave enough to keep them where they were, until the panther, tired of his fruitless efforts to get at her, and finding nothing else to eat, finally retreated. She did not dare to come out of the chest, however, until morning; for she feared, as long as it was dark, that the beast might come back again. So there she sat, ready to crouch down into her hiding-place, if she heard a noise from her enemy. There she remained till after daylight. She was a heroine, was she not?
A horse was killed one night by an American panther; but the body was not disturbed until the next day, when some gentlemen living in the vicinity, had an opportunity of watching the motions of the panther when he returned to his prey. He seized the body of the horse with his teeth, and drew it about sixty paces to a river, into which he plunged with his prey, swam across with it, and drew it into a neighboring forest.
The American panther is very fond of fish, and instances have been known of these animals catching trout with their paws. Humboldt says that he saw a great many turtle shells which the panthers had robbed of the flesh. The manner in which the panther performs this operation, this traveler informs us, is to run with all speed when he sees a number of turtles together on land, and to turn them, or as many of them as he can catch before they reach the water, upon their backs, so that they cannot escape, after which he feasts at his leisure.
Two children, a girl and a boy, were playing together near a small Indian village, in the vicinity of a thicket, when a large panther came out of the woods and made toward them, playfully bounding along, his head down, and his back arched after the fashion of the cat when she chooses to put on some of her mischievous airs. He came up to the boy, and began to play with him, as the latter at first supposed, although he was convinced of his mistake when the panther hit him so severe a blow on his head as to draw blood. Then the little girl, who had a small stick in her hand, struck the panther; and matters were going on in this way, when some Indians in the village, hearing the cries of the children, came to their rescue.
A gentleman who was formerly in the British service at Ceylon, relates the following anecdote: "I was at Jaffna, at the northern extremity of the island of Ceylon, in the beginning of the year 1819, when, one morning, my servant called me an hour or two before my usual time, with 'Master, master! people sent for master's dogs; leopard in the town!' My gun chanced not to be put together; and while my servant was adjusting it, the collector and two medical men, who had recently arrived, in consequence of the cholera morbus having just then reached Ceylon from the continent, came to my door, the former armed with a fowling-piece, and the two latter with remarkably blunt hog spears. They insisted upon setting off without waiting for my gun, a proceeding not much to my taste. The leopard had taken refuge in a hut, the roof of which, like those of Ceylon huts in general, spread to the ground like an umbrella; the only aperture into it was a small door about four feet high. The collector wanted to get the leopard out at once. I begged to wait for my gun; but no, the fowling-piece (loaded with ball, of course) and the two spears were quite enough. I got a stake, and awaited my fate from very shame. At this moment, to my great delight, there arrived from the fort an English officer, two artillerymen, and a Malay captain; and a pretty figure we should have cut without them, as the event will show. I was now quite ready to attack, and my gun came a minute afterward. The whole scene which follows took place within an inclosure, about twenty feet square, formed on three sides by a strong fence of palmyra leaves, and on the fourth by the hut. At the door of this the two artillerymen planted themselves; and the Malay captain got at the top, to frighten the leopard out by unroofing it—an easy operation, as the huts there are covered with cocoanut leaves. One of the artillerymen wanted to go in to the leopard, but we would not suffer it. At last the beast sprang; this man received him on his bayonet, which he thrust apparently down his throat, firing his piece at the same moment. The bayonet broke off short, leaving less than three inches on the musket; the rest remained in the animal, but was invisible to us: the shot probably went through his cheek, for it certainly did not seriously injure him, as he instantly rose upon his legs, with a loud roar, and placed his paws upon the soldier's breast. At this moment the animal appeared to me to about reach the centre of the man's face; but I had scarcely time to observe this, when the leopard, stooping his head, seized the soldier's arm in his mouth, turned him half round, staggering, threw him over on his back, and fell upon him. Our dread now was, that if we fired upon the leopard we might kill the man: for a moment there was a pause, when his comrade attacked the beast exactly in the same manner as the gallant fellow himself had done. He struck his bayonet into his head; the leopard rose at him; he fired; and this time the ball took effect, and in the head. The animal staggered backward, and we all poured in our fire. He still kicked and writhed; when the gentlemen with the spears advanced and fixed him, while some natives finished him by beating him on the head with hedge-stakes. The brave artilleryman was, after all, but slightly hurt. He claimed the skin, which was very cheerfully given to him. There was, however, a cry among the natives that the head should be cut off: it was; and, in so doing, the knife came directly across the bayonet. The animal measured scarcely less than four feet from the root of the tail to the nose."