Stories of Animal Sagacity by William Henry Giles Kingston




  The majestic step, the bold look, the grace and strength of the lion,have obtained for him the title of "king of beasts." He is greatlyindebted, however, to the imagination of the poet for the noblequalities which he is supposed to possess. He is, though capable ofgratitude towards those from whom he has received kindness, oftentreacherous and revengeful, and Dr Livingstone considers him an arrantcoward. The stories, however, which I have to narrate, describe hisbetter qualities.

  Mrs Lee tells us of a lion which was kept in the menagerie at Brussels.The animal's cell requiring some repairs, the keeper led him to theupper portion of it, where, after playing with him for some time, theyboth fell asleep. The carpenter, who was employed in the work below,wishing to ascertain whether it was finished as desired, called thekeeper to inspect what he had done. Receiving no answer, he climbed up,when, seeing the keeper and lion thus asleep side by side, he uttered acry of horror. His voice awoke the lion, which, gazing fiercely at himfor a moment, placed his paw on the breast of his keeper, and lay downto sleep again.

  On the other attendants being summoned, they aroused the keeper, who, onopening his eyes, appeared in no way frightened, but taking the paw ofthe lion, shook it, and quietly led him down to the lower part of theden.


  The custom existed till lately on the Continent of having combatsbetween wild animals and dogs, although they were very different fromthe spectacles exhibited in the days of ancient Rome.

  It had been arranged that a battle should take place between a lion andfour large bull-dogs. The lion, released from his den, stood lookinground him in the arena, when the dogs were let loose. Three of them,however, turned tail, one alone having the courage to attack him. Thelion, crouching down as the dog approached, stretched him motionlesswith one stroke of his paw; then drawing the animal towards him, almostconcealed him with his huge fore-paws. It was believed that the dog wasdead. In a short time, however, it began to move, and was allowed bythe lion to struggle up on to its feet; but when the dog attempted torun away, the lion, with two bounds, reached it, showing it howcompletely it was in his power.

  Pity, or it may have been contempt, now seemed to move the heart of thegenerous lion. He stepped back a few paces, and allowed the dog toescape through the door opened for the purpose, while the spectatorsuttered loud shouts of applause.


  A remarkably handsome African lion was being sent to the coast, where itwas to be placed on board ship, to be carried to France, when it fellill. Its keepers, supposing that it would not recover, left it to dieon the wild open side of the mountain which they were at the timecrossing. There it lay, on the point of perishing, when a traveller,who had been shooting in the interior of the country, happened to passthat way. Seeing the condition of the noble-looking animal, he gave itsome new milk from the goats which he had in his camp. The lion drankit eagerly, and at once began to revive, showing his gratitude bylicking the hand of the benevolent stranger. The traveller continuedhis kind offices to the poor beast, which, in consequence of his care,completely recovered.

  When the traveller moved on, the lion accompanied his camp, and becameso attached to his benefactor that he followed him about everywhere,taking food from his hand, and being in every respect as tame as a dog.


  On one of her voyages from China, the _Pitt_, East Indiaman, had onboard, among her passengers, a young tiger. He appeared to be asharmless and playful as a kitten, and allowed the utmost familiarityfrom every one. He was especially fond of creeping into the sailors'hammocks; and while he lay stretched on the deck, he would suffer two orthree of them to place their heads on his back, as upon a pillow. Nowand then, however, he would at dinner-time run off with pieces of theirmeat; and though sometimes severely punished for the theft, he bore thechastisement he received with the patience of a dog. His chiefcompanion was a terrier, with whom he would play all sorts of tricks--tumbling and rolling over the animal in the most amusing manner, withouthurting it. He would also frequently run out on the bowsprit, and climbabout the rigging with the agility of a cat.

  On his arrival in England, he was sent to the menagerie at the Tower.While there, another terrier was introduced into his den. Possibly hemay have mistaken it for his old friend, for he immediately becameattached to the dog, and appeared uneasy whenever it was taken away.Now and then the dangerous experiment was tried of allowing the terrierto remain while the tiger was fed. Presuming on their friendship, thedog occasionally ventured to approach him; but the tiger showed his truenature on such occasions, by snarling in a way which made the littleanimal quickly retreat.

  He had been in England two years, when one of the seamen of the _Pitt_came to the Tower. The animal at once recognised his old friend, andappeared so delighted, that the sailor begged to be allowed to go intothe den. The tiger, on this, rubbed himself against him, licked hishands, and fawned on him as a eat would have done. The sailor remainedin the den for a couple of hours or more, during which time the tigerkept so close to him, that it was evident he would have some difficultyin getting out again, without the animal making his escape at the sametime. The den consisted of two compartments. At last the keepercontrived to entice the tiger to the inner one, when he closed theslide, and the seaman was liberated.

  Great is the danger of associating with those of bad morals--pleasantand friendly as they may seem.


  The tigress generally takes much less care of her young than does thelioness of her whelps. Occasionally, however, she shows the samematernal affection.

  Two young tiger cubs had been found by some villagers, while theirmother had been ranging in quest of prey. They were put into a stable,where, during the whole night, they continued to make the greatestpossible noise. After some days, during which it was evident that theirmother had been searching for them in every direction, she at lengthdiscovered the place where they were confined, and replied to theircries with tremendous howlings. The keeper, fearing she would breakinto the stable, and probably wreak her vengeance on his head, set thecubs at liberty. She at once made her way to them, and before morninghad carried them off to an adjoining jungle.

  If that savage tigress could thus risk the loss of her life for the sakeof her cubs, think what must be your mother's love for you. Do you tryto repay her in some part for all her care and tenderness, by youraffection, by doing all she wishes, and what you know is right, whethershe sees you or not; trying not in any way to vex her, but to please herin all things?


  Even a wolf, savage as that animal is, may, if caught young, and treatedkindly, become tame.

  A story is told of a wolf which showed a considerable amount ofaffection for its master. He had brought it up from a puppy, and itbecame as tame as the best-trained dog, obeying him in everything.Having frequently to leave home, and not being able to take the wolfwith him, he sent it to a menagerie, where he knew it would be carefullylooked after. At first the wolf was very unhappy, and evidently pinedfor its absent master. At length, resigning itself to its fate, it madefriends with its keepers; and recovered its spirits.

  Fully eighteen months had passed by, when its old master, returninghome, paid a visit to the menagerie. Immediately he spoke, the wolfrecognised his voice, and made strenuous efforts to get free. On beingset at liberty, it sprang forward, and leaped up and caressed him like adog. Its master, however, left it with its keepers, and three yearspassed away before he paid another visit to the menagerie.Notwithstanding this lapse of time, the wolf again recognised him, andexhibited the same marks of affection.

  On its master again going away, the wolf became gloomy and desponding,and refused its food, so that fears were entertained for its life. Itrecovered its health, however, and though it suffe
red its keepers toapproach, exhibited the savage disposition of its tribe towards allstrangers.

  The history of this wolf shows you that the fiercest tempers may becalmed by gentleness.


  Arrant thieves as foxes are, with regard to their domestic virtues MrsF--assures me that they eminently shine.

  Both parents take the greatest interest in rearing and educating theiroffspring. They provide, in their burrow, a comfortable nest, linedwith feathers, for their new-born cubs. Should either parent perceivein the neighbourhood of their abode the slightest sign of humanapproach, they immediately carry their young to a spot of greatersafety, sometimes many miles away. They usually set off in the twilightof a fine evening. The papa fox having taken a survey all round,marches first, the young ones march singly, and mamma brings up therear. On reaching a wall or bank, papa always mounts first, and lookscarefully around, rearing himself on his haunches to command a widerview. He then utters a short cry, which the young ones, understandingas "Come along!" instantly obey. All being safely over, mamma follows,pausing in her turn on the top of the fence, when she makes a carefulsurvey, especially rearward. She then gives a responsive cry, answeringto "All right!" and follows the track of the others. Thus the partyproceed on their march, repeating the same precautions at each freshbarrier.

  When peril approaches, the wary old fox instructs his young ones toescape with turns and doublings on their path, while he himself willstand still on some brow or knoll, where he can both see and be seen.Having thus drawn attention to himself, he will take to flight in adifferent direction. Occasionally, while the young family aredisporting themselves near their home, if peril approach, the parentsutter a quick, peculiar cry, commanding the young ones to hurry toearth; knowing that, in case of pursuit, they have neither strength norspeed to secure their escape. They themselves will then take to flight,and seek some distant place of security.

  The instruction they afford their young is varied. Sometimes theparents toss bones into the air for the young foxes to catch. If thelittle one fails to seize it before it falls to the ground, the parentwill snap at him in reproof. If he catches it cleverly, papa growls hisapproval, and tosses it up again. This sport continues for aconsiderable time.

  As I have said, no other animals so carefully educate their young in theway they should go, as does the fox. He is a good husband, an excellentfather, capable of friendship, and a very intelligent member of society;but all the while, it must be confessed, an incorrigible rogue andthief.

  Do not pride yourself on being perfect because you possess some goodqualities. Consider the many bad ones which counteract them, and striveto overcome those.


  Mrs F--gave me the following account of the ingenious stratagem of afox, witnessed by a friend.

  He was lying one summer's day under the shelter of some shrubs on thebanks of the Tweed, when his attention was attracted by the cries ofwild-fowl, accompanied by a great deal of fluttering and splashing. Onlooking round, he perceived a large brood of ducks, which had beendisturbed by the drifting of a fir branch among them. After circling inthe air for a little time, they again settled down on theirfeeding-ground.

  Two or three minutes elapsed, when the same event again occurred. Abranch drifted down with the stream into the midst of the ducks, andstartled them from their repast. Once more they rose upon the wing,clamouring loudly, but when the harmless bough had drifted by, settledthemselves down upon the water as before. This occurred so frequently,that at last they scarcely troubled themselves to flutter out of theway, even when about to be touched by the drifting bough.

  The gentleman, meantime, marking the regular intervals at which the firbranches succeeded each other in the same track, looked for a cause, andperceived, at length, higher up the bank of the stream, a fox, which,having evidently sent them adrift, was eagerly watching their progressand the effect they produced. Satisfied with the result, cunningReynard at last selected a larger branch of spruce-fir than usual, andcouching himself down on it, set it adrift as he had done the others.The birds, now well trained to indifference, scarcely moved till he wasin the midst of them, when, making rapid snaps right and left, hesecured two fine young ducks as his prey, and floated forwardtriumphantly on his raft; while the surviving fowls, clamouring interror, took to flight, and returned no more to the spot.


  A labourer going to his work one morning, caught sight of a foxstretched out at full length under a bush. Believing it to be dead, theman drew it out by the tail, and swung it about to assure himself of thefact. Perceiving no symptoms of life, he then threw it over hisshoulder, intending to make a cap of the skin, and ornament his cottagewall with the brush. While the fox hung over one shoulder, his mattockbalanced it on the other. The point of the instrument, as he walkedalong, every now and then struck against the ribs of the fox, which, notso dead as the man supposed, objected to this proceeding, though he didnot mind being carried along with his head downward. Losing patience,he gave a sharp snap at that portion of the labourer's body near whichhis head hung. The man, startled by this sudden attack, threw fox andmattock to the ground, when, turning round, he espied the live animalmaking off at full speed.


  I cannot help fancying that Irish foxes are even more cunning than theirbrethren in other parts of the world, I have heard so many accounts oftheir wonderful doings.

  Near Buttevant, where some of Mrs F--'s family resided, there happenedto be a hole in the thatch of the fowl-house. A fox, finding it out,sprang down through the aperture, and slew and feasted all the night tohis heart's desire. The intruder, however, had not reflected that hemight be unable to secure his retreat by the way through which he hadentered--_facilis descensus averni_.

  To spring upward, especially after a heavy supper, was a laboriouseffort; and no doubt the villain had grown sufficiently uneasy in hismind before the early hour at which the farm-servant opened the door toliberate the fowls. When the door was opened, the man beheld thepoacher in the midst of his slaughtered game. Cudgel in hand, he sprangin and fastened the door behind him, ready for a duel with MasterReynard at close quarters. But well the rascal knew that discretion isthe better part of valour, and that "He who fights and runs away, Maylive to fight another day."

  So, after being hunted about the house for some time, he seized anopportunity, when the man stooped to aim a decisive blow at him, tospring upon his assailant's back, and thence leap through the aperturein the roof, which he could not otherwise have reached. Thus he madehis escape.

  It would have been amusing to see the countenance or the man, when hefound his fancied victim vanish from his sight like the wizard of afairy tale.

  Cunning rogues often get trapped, like the fox, when they hope to enjoytheir spoil in security. Beware, when you have such an one to dealwith, that he does not spring on your back, and leave you to beanswerable for his crime.

  To you, my young friend, I would say--You cannot be too cautious indealing with what is wrong. You may fancy yourself able to cope withit, but it may prove too cunning for you. Better keep out of its way,till you have gained strength and wisdom.


  The hero of Scotch story escaped from his foes by making his way downthe course of a stream, that no trace of his footsteps might be found.Equally sagacious was an Irish fox, which, pursued by the hounds, wasseen by a farmer, while he was ploughing a field, to run along in thefurrow directly before him. While wondering how it was that the slycreature was pursuing this course, he heard the cry of dogs, and turninground, saw the whole pack at a dead stand, near the other end of thefield, at the very spot where Reynard had entered the newly-formedtrench. The fox had evidently taken this ingenious way of eludingpursuit; and the farmer, admiring the cleverness of the animal, allowedit to get off without betraying its whereabouts.


  Long live Old Ireland! A countryman was making his way along the bankof a mountain stream in Galway, when he caught sight of a badger movingleisurely along a ledge of rock on the opposite bank. The sound of thehuntsman's horn at the same moment reached his ears, followed by thewell-known cry of a pack of dogs. As he was looking round, to watch fortheir approach, he caught sight of a fox making his way behind thebadger, among the rocks and bushes. The badger continued his course,while the fox, after walking for some distance close in his rear, leapedinto the water. Scarcely had he disappeared, when on came the pack atfull speed, in pursuit. The fox, however, by this time was far away,floating down the stream; but the dogs instantly set upon the lucklessbadger and tore him to pieces, before they discovered that they had notgot Reynard in their clutches.

  Evil-doers seldom scruple to let others suffer, so that they may escape.Keep altogether out of the places frequented by such.


  I have still another story to tell about cunning Reynard. Daylight hadjust broke, when a well-known naturalist, gun in hand, wandering insearch of specimens, observed a large fox making his way along theskirts of a plantation. Reynard looked cautiously over the turf-wallinto the neighbouring field, longing evidently to get hold of some ofthe hares feeding in it, well aware that he had little chance ofcatching one by dint of running. After examining the different gaps inthe wall, he fixed on one which seemed to be the most frequented, andlaid himself down close to it, in the attitude of a cat watching amouse-hole. He next scraped a small hollow in the ground, to form akind of screen. Now and then he stopped to listen, or take a cautiouspeep into the field. This done, he again laid himself down, andremained motionless, except when occasionally his eagerness induced himto reconnoitre the feeding hares.

  One by one, as the sun rose, they made their way from the field to theplantation. Several passed, but he moved not, except to crouch stillcloser to the ground. At length two came directly towards him. Theinvoluntary motion of his ears, though he did not venture to look up,showed that he was aware of their approach. Like lightning, as theywere leaping through the gap, Reynard was upon them, and catching one,killed her immediately. He was decamping with his booty, when arifle-ball put an end to his career.


  I must tell you one more story about a fox, and a very interestinglittle animal it was, though not less cunning than its relatives inwarmer regions.

  Mr Hayes, the Arctic explorer, had a beautiful little snow-white fox,which was his companion in his cabin when his vessel was frozen upduring the winter. She had been caught in a trap, but soon became tame,and used to sit in his lap during meals, with her delicate paws on thecloth. A plate and fork were provided for her, though she was unable tohandle the fork herself; and little bits of raw venison, which shepreferred to seasoned food. When she took the morsels into her mouth,her eyes sparkled with delight. She used to wipe her lips, and look upat her master with a _coquetterie_ perfectly irresistible. Sometimesshe exhibited much impatience; but a gentle rebuke with a fork on thetip of the nose was sufficient to restore her patience.

  When sufficiently tame, she was allowed to run loose in the cabin; butshe got into the habit of bounding over the shelves, without much regardfor the valuable and perishable articles lying on them. She soon alsofound out the bull's-eye overhead, through the cracks round which shecould sniff the cool air. Close beneath it she accordingly took up herabode; and thence she used to crawl down when dinner was on the table,getting into her master's lap, and looking up longingly and lovinglyinto his face, sometimes putting out her little tongue with impatience,and barking, if the beginning of the repast was too long delayed.

  To prevent her climbing, she was secured by a slight chain. This shesoon managed to break, and once having performed the operation, she didnot fail to attempt it again. To do this, she would first draw herselfback as far as she could get, and then suddenly dart forward, in thehope of snapping it by the jerk; and though she was thus sent reeling onthe floor, she would again pick herself up, panting as if her littleheart would break, shake out her disarranged coat, and try once more.When observed, however, she would sit quietly down, cock her headcunningly on one side, follow the chain with her eye along its wholelength to its fastening on the floor, walk leisurely to that point,hesitating a moment, and then make another plunge. All this time shewould eye her master sharply, and if he moved, she would fall down onthe floor at once, and pretend to be asleep.

  She was a very neat and cleanly creature, everlastingly brushing herclothes, and bathing regularly in a bath of snow provided for her in thecabin. This last operation was her great delight. She would throw upthe white flakes with her diminutive nose, rolling about and buryingherself in them, wipe her face with her soft paws, and then mount to theside of the tub, looking round her knowingly, and barking the prettiestbark that ever was heard. This was her way of enforcing admiration; andbeing now satisfied with her performance, she would give a goodly numberof shakes to her sparkling coat, then, happy and refreshed, crawl intoher airy bed in the bull's-eye, and go to sleep.

  Mr Hayes does not tell us what became of Birdie. I am afraid that herfate was a sad one.


  The monarch of the Arctic regions, the monstrous white bear there reignssupreme. Savage and ferocious as is his consort, as well as he, sheshows the utmost affection for her young. I have a sad tale to tell.

  The crew of an exploring vessel in the Arctic Seas had killed a walrus,and set fire to part of the blubber. The steam of the flesh drew fromafar towards it a she bear and her two cubs. Putting their noses to thetempting mess, they began to eat it eagerly. The seamen, seeing this,threw other pieces on the ice nearer to the ship. The bear incautiouslyapproached, carrying off the pieces, which she bestowed on her cubs,and, though evidently famished, taking but a small portion herself. Thethoughtless sailors shot the two cubs, and again firing, wounded themother. Though she herself was barely able to crawl to the spot wherethey lay, she carried to them the last lump of blubber, endeavouring tomake them eat it. Discovering that they were unable to do so, sheendeavoured to raise first one, and then the other; but in vain. Shenow began to retreat; but her motherly feelings overcoming her, thoughconscious of the danger she was running, she returned to where they lay,moaning mournfully. Several times did she thus behave, when, seeminglyconvinced that her young ones were cold and helpless, she cast areproachful glance towards the vessel whence the cruel bullets hadproceeded, and uttered a low growl of angry despair which might havemoved the hearts even of the most callous. A shower of musket bullets,however, laid her low between her two cubs, and she died licking theirwounds.

  You cry "Shame" on the rough sailors for their cruelty. Yes, they actedcruelly, because they were thoughtless of the feelings of the poor bear.Ask yourself, dear young friend, if you are ever thoughtless of thefeelings of those who merit your tenderest love. If you are, cry"Shame" on yourself, and endeavour in future to regard them first of allthings.


  The Indian believes the bear to be possessed not only of a wonderfulamount of sagacity, but of feelings akin to those of human beings.Though most species are savage when irritated, some of them occasionallyexhibit good-humour and kindness.

  A story is told of a man in Russia, who, on an expedition in search ofhoney, climbed into a high tree. The trunk was hollow, and hediscovered a large cone within. He was descending to obtain it, when hestuck fast. Unable to extricate himself, and too far from home to makehis voice heard, he remained in that uncomfortable position for twodays, sustaining his life by eating the honey. He had become silentfrom despair, when, looking up, what was his horror to see a huge bearabove him, tempted by the same object which had led him into hisdangerous predicament, and about to descend into the interior of thetree!

  Bears--very wisely--when getting into hollows of rocks or trees, gotail-end fi
rst, that they may be in a position to move out again whennecessary. No sooner, in spite of his dismay, did the tail of the bearreach him, than the man caught hold of it. The animal, astonished atfinding some big creature below him, when he only expected to meet witha family of bees, against whose stings his thick hide was impervious,quickly scrambled out again, dragging up the man, who probably shoutedright lustily. Be that as it may, the bear waddled off at a quick rate,and the honey-seeker made his way homeward, to relate his adventure, andrelieve the anxiety of his family.


  The brown bear, which lives in Siberia, may be considered among the mostgood-natured of his tribe. Mr Atkinson, who travelled in that country,tells us that some peasants--a father and mother--had one day lost twoof their children, between four and six years of age. It was soonevident that their young ones had wandered away to a distance from theirhome, and as soon as this discovery was made they set off in search ofthem.

  Having proceeded some way through the wilds, they caught sight in thedistance of a large animal, which, as they got nearer, they discoveredto be a brown bear; and what was their horror to see within its clutchestheir lost young ones! Their sensations of dismay were exchanged forastonishment, when they saw the children running about, laughing, roundthe bear, sometimes taking it by the paws, and sometimes pulling it bythe tail. The monster, evidently amused with their behaviour, treatedthem in the most affectionate manner. One of the children now producedsome fruit, with which it fed its shaggy playfellow, while the otherclimbed up on its back, and sat there, fearlessly urging its strangesteed to move on. The parents gave way to cries of terror at seeing theapparent danger to which their offspring were exposed. The little boy,however, having slipped off the bear's back, the animal, hearing thesound of their voices, left the children, and retreated quietly into theforest.


  I will now tell you a story of a very different animal--the timid littlehare--which has to depend for safety, not, like the bear, on strength,but on speed and cunning.

  A poor little hare was one day closely pursued by a brace of greyhounds,when, seeing a gate near, she ran for it. The bars were too close toallow the hounds to get through, so they had to leap over the gate. Asthey did so, the hare, perceiving that they would be upon her the nextinstant, turned round, and ran again under the gate, where she had justbefore passed. The impetus of the hounds had sent them a considerabledistance, and they had now to wheel about and leap once more over theupper bar of the gate. Again she doubled, and returned by the way shehad come; and thus, going backwards and forwards, the dogs followed tillthey were fairly tired out, while the little hare, watching heropportunity, happily made her escape.

  You may learn a lesson even from this little hare, never to yield todifficulties. Persevere, and you will surmount them at last.


  Two hundred years ago there were wolves in Ireland, and it appears thatthey were as cunning as the foxes of the present day.

  A man, travelling, as was the custom in those times, on horseback, witha sword by his side, was passing between two towns, some three milesfrom each other, when he was attacked by a wolf. He drove him off withhis sword, but again and again the animal assaulted him. He had nearlyreached the town to which he was going, when he met a friend who wasunarmed, whom he told of the danger he had encountered; and, as hebelieved himself now safe from attack, he gave him the sword for hisdefence. The wolf had been watching this proceeding, evidently intenton attacking the person who was travelling without a sword. When he sawthat the first he had attacked was now defenceless, he made after him atfull speed, and overtaking him before he got into the town, leaped uponhim, unarmed as he now was, and deprived him of life.

  When striving for an object, continue your efforts and be cautious, asat the first, till you have gained it.


  I have told you of a friendship formed between a tiger and a dog. Iwill now narrate another tale, which speaks well for the good feeling ofboth animals.

  In India it is the cruel custom, when a wandering dog is found, to throwit into a tiger's cage for the purpose of getting rid of it. Ithappened that one of these pariah-dogs was thrust into the den of thesavage beast. The dog, however, instead of giving himself up for lost,stood on the defensive in the corner of the cage, and whenever the tigerapproached, seized him by the lip or neck, making him roar piteously.The tiger, savage for want of food, continued to renew the attack, withthe same result; till at length the larger animal began to show arespect for the courage of the smaller one, and an understanding wasfinally arrived at between them.

  At last a mess of rice and milk was put into the cage of the tiger, whenhe invited the dog to partake of it, and instead of treacherouslyspringing on him, as some human beings would have done on their foe,allowed him to feed in quiet. From that day the animals not only becamereconciled, but a strong attachment sprang up between them. The dogused to run in and out of the cage, looking upon it as his home; andwhen the tiger died, he long evidently mourned the loss of his friendand former antagonist.

  Observe how that poor outcast dog, by his courage and perseverance,preserved his life, and indeed gained a victory, in spite of the fierceassaults of his savage foe. Will you act less courageously whenattacked by the ridicule, the abuse, or the persuasions of those who maytry to drag you from the path of duty?


  The agile inhabitant of the lofty Alps--the graceful chamois--shows thegreatest affection for her young.

  A Swiss hunter, while pursuing his dangerous sport, observed a motherchamois and her two kids on a rock above him. They were sporting by herside, leaping here and there around her. While she watched theirgambols, she was ever on the alert lest an enemy should approach.

  The hunter, climbing the rock, drew near, intending, if possible, tocapture one of the kids alive. No sooner did the mother chamois observehim, than, dashing at him furiously, she endeavoured to hurl him withher horns down the cliff. The hunter, knowing that he might kill her atany moment, drove her off, fearing to fire, lest the young ones shouldtake to flight.

  He was aware that a deep chasm existed beyond them, by which he believedthe escape of the animals to be cut off. What was his surprise,therefore, when he saw the old chamois approach the chasm, and,stretching out her fore and hind-legs, thus form with her body a bridgeacross it!

  As soon as she had done this, she called on her young ones, and theysprang, one at a time, on her back, and reached the other side insafety! By a violent effort, she sprang across after them, and soonconducted her charges beyond the reach of the hunter's bullets.

  Trust your mother: she, in most cases, will find means to help you outof trouble.


  I have very little to say in favour of wolves. They are generally ascowardly in their adversity as they are savage when at liberty. I giveyou the following story, however, which I believe to be true.

  An English sportsman had been hunting during the winter in Hungary. Hewas returning in a sleigh one evening to the village where he was toremain for the night, the peasant owning the sleigh sitting behind, anda boy driving. As they passed the corner of a wood, a wolf was seen torush out of it and give chase. The peasant shouted to the boy, "A wolf,a wolf! Drive on, drive on!" Obeying the order, with whip and shoutthe boy urged the horses to full speed. One glance round showed him thesavage animal close behind. The wolf was gaining upon them fast. Thevillage was scarcely two hundred yards off! The owner, however, sawthat the wolf would be upon them before they could reach it.Frantically they shouted, pursuing their impetuous career.

  Taking another glance behind him, the peasant saw the fierce, pantingbeast about to make his fatal spring. A thought struck him. Seizingthe thick sheep-skin which covered the sleigh, he threw it over hishead. Scarcely had he done so when the wolf sprang upon his back, an
dgripped hold of the skin. In an instant more it would have been tornfrom him, when, raising both his hands, he grasped the wolf's head andneck with all his strength, hugging him with an iron clutch to hisshoulders. "On--on!" he shouted to the almost paralysed driver. Thecourageous fellow still holding his fierce assailant in a death-gripe,the sleigh swept into the village. The inhabitants, hearing the shouts,rushed forth from their huts, and seeing the perilous condition of theirfriends, gave chase with axes in their hands. No sooner had the boyslackened the speed of his horses, than the men rushed at the savageanimal, still held captive, and quickly despatched it. Not withoutdifficulty, however, could the brave peasant, after the exertion he hadundergone, loosen his arms from the neck of the wolf.


  The otter, although not so expert an architect as the beaver, appears topossess more sagacity. A fine one, caught in Scotland, became so tame,that whenever it was alarmed it would spring for protection into thearms of its master.

  It had also been taught to fish for his benefit; and so dexterous was itat this sport, that it would catch several fine salmon during the day,in a stream near his house. It could fish as well in salt water as infresh. Bravely it would buffet the waves of the ocean, and swim off inchase of cod-fish, of which it would in a short time catch largenumbers.

  When fatigued by its exertions, nothing would induce it to re-enter thewater. On such occasions it received a part of the produce of the sportfor its own share; and after having satisfied itself, it would fallasleep, and was generally in that condition carried home, to resume itslabours on another day.

  Though you may be very young and small, you may, if you try, help thosemuch older and bigger than yourself.


  I have another story about an otter, which lived in the ZoologicalGardens in London. The otter-pond, surrounded by a wall, was on oneoccasion only half-full of water, when the otter for whose use it wasintended had a pair of young ones. They, happening to fall into thewater, were unable to climb up its steep sides. The mother, afraid thatthey would be drowned, endeavoured in vain, by stooping over the wall,to drag them out. At last she jumped in, and after playing with themfor a short time, was seen to put her head to the ear of one of thelittle creatures. This was to tell her child what she wanted it to do.Directly after, she sprang out of the pond, while her young one caughthold of the fur at the root of her tail; and while it clung tightly toher, she dragged it out, and placed it safely on the dry ground. Shethen again plunged in, and in the same way dragged out her other youngone.

  I am very sure that your parents will help you out of any difficultyinto which you may fall; but then you must do as they tell you, thusfollowing the example of the young otters.


  You have often heard of the wonderful way in which beavers in Americaconstruct their habitations and dams. They seem, however, in theseoperations, to be influenced by instinct rather than by reason. I willtell you of a beaver which lived in captivity in France.

  To supply him with nourishment, all sorts of things--fruits, vegetables,and small branches of trees--were thrown to him. His keepers, knowingthat he came from a cold climate, bestowed little care, however, inkeeping him warm. Winter coming on, one night large flakes of snow weredriven by the wind into a corner of his cage. The poor beaver, who, inhis own country, forms a remarkably warm house for himself, almostperished with the cold. If man would not help him, he must try and helphimself to build a cell which would shelter him from the icy blast. Thematerials at his disposal were the branches of trees given him to gnaw.These he interwove between the bars of his cage, filling up theinterstices with the carrots and apples which had been thrown in for hisfood. Besides this, he plastered the whole with snow, which frozeduring the night; and next morning it was found that he had built a wallof considerable height, which perfectly answered his purpose.

  Make the best of the means at your disposal, as well as of the talentsyou possess.


  Rats, in their ferocity, partake of the character of the wolf, and intheir cunning, of that of the fox.

  A great flood occurred some years ago in the north of England; and as anumber of people were collected on the banks of the Tyne, whose watershad risen to an unusual height, a swan was seen swimming across theflood. On its back was a black spot, visible among its white plumage.As the swan came nearer, this was found to be a live rat. No sooner hadthe swan, after bravely breasting the foaming torrent, reached theshore, than the rat leaped off and scampered away. Probably it had beencarried into the water, and, unable to swim to land, on seeing the swanhad sought refuge on its back, thus escaping a watery grave.

  As the swan did, help those incapable of helping themselves, though youdislike their appearance and character. They may not have had theadvantages you possess.


  An old lady, wealthy and hospitable, lived in a large house, withseveral servants to attend on her. Although no terrific murder or otherdark deed was ever known to have been perpetrated in the house, reportsaid it was haunted. Undoubtedly, noises were heard in the lower partof the mansion. Night after night unearthly sounds arose after thedomestics had retired to their chambers. At last the old lady,determined to resist this invasion of her domestic peace, told herservants to arm themselves with such weapons as they could obtain, sheherself sitting up with a brace of loaded pistols before her. Thisproceeding had the desired effect. The ghostly visitants, if such theywere, ceased from their nocturnal revels. All remained silent tillcock-crow. Night after night the brave old dame heroically watched, butno ghosts came.

  To celebrate her victory, she invited a number of guests, and determinedto broach a cask of long-hoarded Madeira. With keys in hand, attendedby the butler, she entered the cellar; the spill was pulled out from thecask, the cock duly inserted, but no wine came. The butler tapped; ahollow sound was the return. On applying a light, teeth-marks werevisible at the very lowest part of the staves.

  By rats alone could such marks have been made. What a band of thirstytopers must have been employed in the nefarious burglary! No doubt itwas the rats, inebriated by such unusual potations, which had caused themysterious uproar. Be that as it may, the lady lost her wine; and thecask was placed in the museum of Mr Buckland, who tells the tale, andthere it stands to corroborate its truth.

  It is said that rats will insert their tails into oil-flasks, and alloweach other in turn to suck off the liquid thus obtained.


  Mice, I suspect, are fully as sagacious as rats; perhaps they are moreso. In their foraging expeditions what cleverness do they exhibit!When one or two have been caught in a trap, how careful are the rest ofthe community not to be tempted by the treacherous bait.

  A honey-pot had been left in a closet, from the wall of which some ofthe loose plaster had fallen down. In the morning, the honey beingwanted, the pot was found with a considerable portion abstracted.Outside of it was a heap of mortar reaching to the edge, forming aninclined plane, while inside a similar structure had been raised withthe loose plaster. From the marks on the shelf, it was clearly the workof a mouse; which had thus, by means of a well-designed structure,obtained entrance and exit.

  If a little mouse, to gain its object, which you deem a wrong one, canemploy so much intelligence, how much more should you exert yoursuperior faculties to attain a right object.


  I have told you of dogs making their way from one end of the country tothe other in search of their masters, and of horses traversing widedistricts to the pastures where they were bred, but you would scarcelyexpect to hear of a sheep performing a long journey to return to thehome of her youth.

  A ewe, bred in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, was driven intoPerthshire, a distance of upwards of one hundred miles. She remainedsome time at the place, and there became the mother of a la
mb. She tooka dislike to her new home, and thoughts of her early days stealing uponher, she came to the resolution of returning to the scenes of her youth.

  Calling her lamb, she one night set off southward. Often she wascompelled to hurry on her young one with impatient bleatings. She tookthe highroad, along which she had been driven. Reaching Stirling earlyin the morning, she discovered that an annual fair was taking place, andthat the town was full of people. Unwilling to venture among them forfear of being caught, or losing her lamb, she waited patiently outsidetill the evening, lying close by the roadside. Many people saw her, butbelieving her owner was near, did not molest her. During the earlyhours of the morning she got safely through, observed by several people,and evidently afraid lest the dogs prowling about the town might injureher young one.

  Arriving at length at the toll-bar of Saint Ninians, she was stopped bythe toll-keeper, who supposed her to be a stray sheep. She escaped him,however, and several times when the gate was opened endeavoured, withthe lamb at her heels, to make her way through. He each time drove herback. She at length turned round, and appeared to be going the way shecame. She had, however, not abandoned her intention, for she eitherdiscovered a more circuitous road to the south side of the gate, or madeher way through; for on a Sabbath morning early in June she arrived atthe farm where she had been bred,--having been nine days on her journey.

  So delighted was her former owner with this exhibition of affection forthe farm, and with her wonderful memory, that he offered her purchaserthe price he had received; and to the day of her death--when she hadreached the mature age, for a sheep, of seventeen years--she remained aconstant resident on her native farm.


  There is another story about a ewe which I should like to tell you, andwhich shows the affection she had for her young.

  A lamb, frisking about near its mother, contrived to spring into a thickhedge, in which its coat was so firmly held that it could not escape.The ewe, after vainly trying to rescue her young one, ran off withviolent bleatings towards a neighbouring field, breaking in her waythrough several hedges, to where there was a ram, and communicated tohim the disaster. He at once returned with her, and by means of hishorns quickly pushed the young creature out of the thorny entanglementin which it had been entrapped.


  On the crumbling walls of the romantic ruins of Caernarvon Castle, someyears ago, two agile goats were seen,--now leaping over a rugged gap,now climbing some lofty pinnacle, now browsing on the herbageoverhanging the perilous paths. Presently they approached each otherfrom opposite ends of one of the narrow intersecting walls. When theymet, finding that there was no room to pass, they surveyed each otherface to face for some minutes in perfect stillness. Each had barelystanding ground for his own feet. However, they tossed their heads withmenacing looks, often making slight feints of butting or pushingforward; but they took care not to come into actual contact, knowingwell that the slightest force might precipitate one or both from theirperilous position. Neither could they attempt to walk backward or turnround on so narrow a spot. Thus they again stood quite still for abovean hour, occasionally uttering low sounds, but neither of them moving.

  At length they appeared to have settled the difficult point as to whichof the two should give way. The one which appeared the youngest layquietly down, while the other walked calmly over him, and pursued hispath contentedly.

  Their example might well be followed by human beings in many of theaffairs of life, where a contest must prove destructive to both. Many abloody war might be averted, did nations imitate the example of thesetwo animals. Not, however, by bowing the neck to the yoke of aconqueror, but by amicably settling differences. How many law-suitsmight also be avoided by the same means.

  And you, my young friends, understand that there is far more truemagnanimity and courage exhibited in giving way to others than inbattling for doubtful rights and privileges.


  If you have ever examined the head of a seal, with its large gentleeyes, you will readily believe that the animal possesses a certainamount of intellect, and is capable of very affectionate feelings.

  The story I am about to tell you is a very sad one. Perhaps you willrecollect the seal in the Zoological Gardens, which used to come out ofits pond at the call of the French sailor to whom it belonged, and,climbing up while he sat on a chair, put its fins round his neck andgive him a kiss. How it immediately obeyed him when he told it to goback to the water, and how adroitly it used to catch the fish which hethrew to it. I remember also hearing of a seal in Shetland which wouldreturn with its prey in its mouth on being summoned by the owner.

  But the seal I am going to tell you about belonged to a gentleman in thewest of Ireland, near the sea. This seal was so tame, and so attachedto its master, that it would follow him about like a dog, and seemedmuch pleased whenever allowed to lick his hand.

  People in that part of the country are sadly ignorant and superstitious.Two bad harvests having succeeded each other, the foolish inhabitantstook it into their heads that the disaster was caused by the innocentseal. So many were the complaints they made, some people eventhreatening the owner, that, fearing the life of his favourite would beendangered, he was obliged to consent to its being sent away. Havingbeen put on board a boat, it was taken to some distance and then throwninto the sea. Very shortly afterwards, however, it found its way backto its beloved master. Still anxious to preserve the animal's life, heconsented to its being again carried away to a greater distance; butonce more it returned. This made the ignorant people more certain thanever that the poor seal was some evil being.

  Again it was put on board a boat, the crew of which rowed to a muchgreater distance than before, determining that the poor seal shouldtrouble them no more. Though following the injunctions of their masternot to kill it, they cruelly put out its eyes, and then threw itoverboard, to perish in the wide ocean, as they believed. Some timepassed, when one stormy night the gentleman heard above the moaningsounds of the gale the plaintive cry of his favourite close to hishouse. He went to the door, and, opening it, there lay the body of theaffectionate animal quite dead. Though deprived of its sight, it hadfound its way back to the shore on which its master's house stood, andexerting all its strength, had crawled up to the door; thus exhibitingan amount of affection for its human friend such as can scarcely existin a greater degree in the breast of any animal.



  When we observe the small heads and unmeaning eyes of birds, we do notexpect to find any great amount of intellect among them. They are,however, moved by the same passions and feelings as larger animals, andoccasionally exhibit thought and reasoning power. I suspect, indeed,could we understand their language, that we should find they can talk toeach other, and express their meaning as well as others of the brutecreation.


  A goose was seated on her eggs in a quiet corner, not far from ahorse-pond, in a farmyard. Up and down before her strode a game-cock,which, watching the calm looks and contented manner of the goose, whichcontrasted so greatly with his own fiery disposition, began to getangry,--just as human beings who are out of sorts sometimes do withthose who appear happy and smiling. At last, working himself into adownright passion, he flew at the poor goose, pecked out one of hereyes, and while she was attempting to defend herself, trampled on anddestroyed several of her eggs. The gander, which was waddling about onthe other side of the pond, on seeing what was taking place hastened tothe aid of his consort, and attacked the savage cock. The cock ofcourse turned upon him, and a desperate battle ensued. The twocombatants, after a time, drew off from each other, both probablyclaiming the victory.

  For some days after this, the cock, taught prudence, allowed the gooseto remain in quiet, the gander watching him narrowly. The latter atlast, trusting to the lesson he had given the cock, wandered away forprovender to a dis
tant part of the yard. No sooner was he gone than thecock, which had all the time been waiting for an opportunity, againassaulted the poor goose. Her loud cries were fortunately heard by thegander, which came tearing along with outstretched wings to herassistance, and seizing the cock by the neck, before the angry birdcould turn his head, he hauled him along to the pond. In he plunged,and soon had him in deep water. "I am more than your master now,"thought the gander, as he ducked the cock under the surface; "I willtake care you shall never more interfere with my dear goose." And againand again, he ducked the cock, keeping his head each time longer underwater, till at last his struggles ceased, and he was drowned.

  It is sinful to harbour the slightest feeling of revenge in our hearts;yet those who attack others unable to defend themselves, either by wordor deed, must expect to receive deserved punishment from the morepowerful friends of their victims.


  A Cheshire farmer had a large flock of geese. As he was passing throughthe yard one day, one of the geese quitted its companions and stalkedafter him. Why it did so he could never tell, as he had shown it nomore attention than the rest of the flock. The following day the goosebehaved in the same way; and at length, wherever he went--to the mill,the blacksmith's shop, or even through the bustling streets of theneighbouring town--the goose followed at his heels. When he went tochurch, he was obliged to shut up the goose.

  While ploughing his fields, the goose would walk sedately before him,with firm step, and head and neck erect--frequently turning round andfixing its eyes upon him. One furrow completed, and the plough turned,the goose, without losing step, would adroitly wheel about; and wouldthus behave, till it followed its master home.

  Even in the house, as he sat by the fire in the evening, it would mounton his lap, nestle its head in his bosom, and preen his hair with itsbeak, as it was wont to do its own feathers.

  Even when he went out shooting, the goose followed like a dog, gettingover the fences as well as he could himself.

  It is sad to think that gross superstition was the cause of the death ofthe faithful bird. The ignorant farmer afterwards killed it, fancyingthat the mysterious affection of the goose boded him some evil.

  Take warning from the fate of the poor goose, and do not bestow youraffection on those who seem unworthy of it, however clever or powerfulthey may be.


  Bishop Stanley, who mentions the story, heard of an aged blind woman whoused to be led every Sunday to church by a gander, which took hold ofher gown with its bill. When she had seated herself, it retired tograze in the churchyard till she came out again, and then it would leadher safely home.

  One day the clergyman called at her house, and expressed his surprise tothe daughter that the mother should venture abroad. She replied: "Osir, we are not afraid of trusting her out of sight, for the gander iswith her."

  When a poor despised goose can thus make itself of so much use, how muchmore should you try to become useful.


  Mrs F--, who has had much experience with poultry, considers them verysensible and kind-hearted birds. The leg of a young duck had beenbroken by an accident. She placed it in splints, and put the bird undera small crate, on a patch of grass, to prevent its moving about till ithad recovered. It was one of a large family; and in a short time itsrelatives gathered round the prisoner, clamouring their condolence inevery variety of quacking intonation. They forced their necks under thecrate, evidently trying to raise it, and thus liberate the captive; butthe effort was beyond their strength. Convinced, at length, of this,after clamouring a little more they marched away in a body, while theprisoner quietly sat down and appeared resigned.

  A short time afterwards a great deal of quacking was heard, and aregiment of upwards of forty ducks was seen marching into the yard,headed by two handsome drakes, known by the names of Robin Hood andFriar Tuck. Evidently with a preconceived purpose, they all marched upto the crate and surrounded it. Every neck was thrust beneath thelowest bar of the prison; every effort was made to raise it,--but invain. At length a parley ensued. Then the noise ceased. Only thedeep-toned quacking of Robin Hood was heard, when their object becameclear. All the tribe gathered together on one side of the crate, thestrongest in front; and as many as could reach it thrust their necksbeneath the crate, while the rest pushed them forward from behind. Thusthey succeeded in overturning the crate, and setting free theirimprisoned friend. With clamourous rejoicings from the whole troop, theliberated duck limped off in their midst.

  These sensible ducks teach us the important lesson that union isstrength. Not that they, you will agree with me, showed their wisdomexactly in liberating their companion, who was placed in confinement forhis benefit. However, remember through life how much you may effect ina good cause by sinking all minor differences, and uniting with otherslike-minded with yourself.


  My children have a black dog and a jackdaw; and though the bird shows apreference for human companionship, when he cannot obtain that he hopsoff to the dog's kennel, on the top of which he sits, talking to hisfour-footed friend in his own fashion; and the dog seems well-pleased toreceive his visits. I fully expect, some day, to have some curious taleto tell about them.

  In the meantime, I will tell you of a raven which had been brought upwith a dog in Cambridgeshire. They had formed an alliance, offensiveand defensive, and could certainly interchange ideas. The dog was fondof hares and rabbits, and the raven had no objection to a piece of gamefor his dinner. Being both at liberty, they used to set out togetherinto the country to hunt. The dog would enter a cover and drive out thehares or rabbits, when the raven, which was watching outside, wouldpounce down on the animals as they rushed from the thicket, and holdthem till the dog came to its assistance. They thus managed to obtaintheir desired feast--indeed, they were probably more successful thanmany human sportsmen.


  In Mrs F--'s poultry-yard, some duck-eggs had been placed under aDorking hen. A few days afterwards, a bantam began to sit on her owneggs--the nests being close together. In the accustomed twenty-one daysthe bantams were hatched and removed; but after the usual thirty daysrequired for hatching the duck-eggs had passed, none appeared, and sothe Dorking hen was taken away and the nest destroyed. Although tendays had elapsed since the hatching of the bantam's eggs, the Dorkinghen remembered her neighbour's good fortune, and tried to get possessionof her brood--calling the little ones, feeding them, and fighting tokeep them; but the true mother would by no means consent to resign herrights. To prevent the interference of the Dorking, she was shut up forseveral days; but directly she was liberated, she again flew to thelittle chickens and acted as before.

  Two Muscovy ducklings having just been hatched under another hen, theywere offered, as a consolation for her disappointment, to the Dorking;and such was her desire for maternity that she instantly adopted them.To prevent further trouble, she and her charges were sent to aneighbouring house. A fortnight later other ducks were hatched, and asit seemed a pity to waste the time of the banished hen with twoducklings only, they were sent for home. The little Muscovies wereplaced with their own brethren, and the hen turned loose among the restof the poultry, it being supposed impossible that she would stillrecollect the past. Her memory, however, was more tenacious than anyone fancied. Once more she hastened to the bantams, and lavished hercare on the tiny things, of whom only three were surviving. The bantammother, on this, appeared satisfied to regard her as a friend. Theydisputed no longer, but jointly and equally lavished their cares andcaresses on the three chicks.

  Here is not only a curious example of tenacity of memory, but it is theonly instance of friendship Mrs F--has ever known to exist amongstgallinaceous fowl.

  Do not be jealous of another's success, but try rather to assist andsupport a rival, if your services are acceptable.

br />   Audubon, the American naturalist, whose statements we can thoroughlytrust, once possessed a fine male turkey of the wild breed common in theWestern States. He had reared the bird till it became so tame that itwould follow any one who called it. He had also a favourite spaniel,which became thoroughly intimate with the turkey, and the two mightconstantly have been seen running side by side. When the bird was abouttwo years old, it would fly into the forest, and occasionally remainaway for several days together.

  It happened one day, after it had been absent for some time, that asAudubon was walking through the forest at some distance from his home,he saw a turkey get up before him, but he did not recognise it as hisown. Wishing to secure it for the table, he ordered his dog to makechase. Off went the spaniel at full speed; but the bird, instead offlying away, remained quietly on the ground till its pursuer came up.The dog was then about to seize it, when Audubon saw the former suddenlystop, and turn her head towards him. On hastening up, he discovered,greatly to his surprise, that the turkey was his own. Recognising thespaniel, it had not flown away from her, as it would have done from astrange dog.

  Unhappily, the turkey, again leaving home to range through the forest,was mistaken for a wild one, and accidentally shot. Audubon recognisedit by a red ribbon being brought him which he had placed round its neck.Do not forget old friends or former worthy companions, however humble,but treat them with kindness and consideration.


  A Spanish hen, in Mrs F--'s poultry-yard, was sitting on her nest inthe hatching-house, which had a small window, through which a personmight look to see that all was right. As the hens were usually fed upontheir nests, the ground was strewed with corn, which tempted the ratsand mice. The hens used frequently to punish the mice by a sharp tap onthe head with their beak, which laid them to rest for ever.

  One day Mrs F--was looking through the window, when she saw amiddle-sized rat peering forth from its hole. The rat scrambled intothe upper range of boxes, where sat the Spanish hen, and then remainedawhile still as a mouse. The hen evidently saw him, but she sat close,her head drawn back and kept low on the shoulder, her eyes nearlyclosed. She clearly feigned to be asleep. The rat, deceived, advanceda few steps, and then sat on his haunches, looking and listening withall his might. Again he moved, again paused, then sprang into onecorner of the nest, grappling an egg with his fore-paws at the sameinstant. The hen had never stirred all the time; but now, suddenlythrowing forward her head, she seized her foe by the nape of the neck;then, without withdrawing her bill, she pressed down his head repeatedlywith all her force. She then gave an extra peck or two, half rose,settled her eggs beneath her again, and seemed happy; and before her laya half-grown rat, quite dead.

  This was, indeed, calm courage. Imitate, if you can, this brave hen.Endeavour to be cool and collected when danger approaches.


  Swans show much bravery, especially in defending their young; indeed,from their size, they are able to do battle with the largest of thefeathered tribe. They have been known also to attack people who haveventured nearer their cygnets than they liked.

  I remember a lady being attacked by a swan on the banks of a lake, inthe grounds of a relative of mine. She had to take to flight, and wasmet running along the path crying for aid, with the swan, its wingsoutstretched, in full chase after her.


  Only lately, a person paddling in a canoe near Chelmsford approached anest of cygnets, when the parent swan swam out, and seizing the bow ofthe canoe, nearly upset it. The paddler had to back out of the way,with difficulty escaping the violent assaults of the enraged bird.

  One morning, as a family of cygnets were assembled on the banks of oneof the islands in the Zoological Gardens of London, and the parent birdswere swimming about watching their little ones, a carrion-crow, thinkingthat the old birds were too far off to interfere with him, pounced downon one of the cygnets. The father swan, however, had his eye on themarauder, and, darting forward, seized him with his bill. The crow invain struggled to get free. The swan, like the gander I beforementioned, dragged the felon towards the lake, and plunging him underwater, held him there till his caws sounded no longer.

  Be brave and bold in defence of the helpless, especially of thosecommitted to your charge.


  Ravens are supposed to be the most cunning and sagacious of birds. Theyare knowing fellows, at all events.

  Some schoolboys in Ireland used frequently to set traps for catchingbirds. A tame raven belonging to their family frequently watched theproceedings of the young gentlemen, and it occurred to him that he hadas much right to the birds as they had. When, therefore, they were outof the way, he would fly down to the trap and lift the lid; but as hecould not hold it up and seize his prey at the same time, the birdinvariably escaped.

  Not far off lived another tame raven, with which he was on visitingacquaintance. After having vainly attempted on frequent occasions toget the birds out of the trap by himself, he one day observed anotherpoor bird caught. Instead, however, of running the risk of opening thetrap as before, he hastened off to his acquaintance. The two ravensthen came back to the trap, and while one lifted the lid, the otherseized the poor captive. They then divided their prize between them.

  When you see rogues like these two ravens agree, do you not feel ashamedwhen you take so little pains to assist your companions in doing what isright? We are placed in this world to help one another.


  A large dog was kept chained in a stable-yard, in the roof of one of theout-buildings of which a raven had his abode. The dog and bird hadbecome great friends. Yet the latter could not help amusing himself atthe expense of his four-footed companion. Sometimes he would snatch apiece of food from the dog's pan, often when he did not wish to eat ithimself. As the dog submitted without complaint at first, the ravenwould come again and take another piece away, then bring it back justwithin reach, and dangle it over the dog's nose. As soon as he openedhis mouth to catch it, the raven would dart off again out of his reach.

  At other times he would hide a piece just beyond the length of the dog'schain, and then, with a cunning look, perch upon his head.

  Yet, mischievous as he was, the bird would never altogether run awaywith the quadruped's food, but would after a while return it, with theexception of any small bit which he might wish to keep for himself.These tricks in no way offended the good-natured dog. He showed aremarkable instance of his affection, when on one occasion the ravenhappened to tumble into a tub of water, just beyond his range. Seeingthe poor bird struggling, he exerted all his strength, and dragged hisheavy kennel forward till he could put his head over the edge of thetub, when he took the raven up in his mouth and laid him gently on theground to recover.


  Ravens vie with our brave Arctic explorers in the wide circuit they makein their wanderings.

  When Captain McClure was frozen up in the ice, during his lastexpedition to the North Pole, two ravens settled themselves near hisship, for the sake of obtaining the scraps of food thrown to them by theseamen. A dog belonging to the ship, however, regarding their pickingsas an encroachment on his rights, used, as they drew near, to rushforward and endeavour to seize them with his mouth; but the ravens weretoo cunning to be entrapped in that manner. No sooner were themess-tins cleared out than they would approach, and as he sprang afterthem, would fly a few yards off, and there keep a sharp eye on hismovements. Having enticed him to a distance, they would fly rapidlytowards the ship, with a chuckle of satisfaction; and before the dogarrived, all the best bits had been secured by his cunning rivals.


  Magnificent as the eagle is in appearance, he certainly does not, on thescore of intellect, deserve the rank he holds as king of birds. Exceptthat he will fight bravely now and then for his young, I know of no goodquality he possesses.
  A countryman in the Highlands, to whose farmyard an eagle had paidseveral unwelcome visits, carrying off ducklings and chickens,determined to have his revenge. Sallying forth, gun in hand, he climbedup the rocky side of a neighbouring mountain, when he saw, high abovehim, the nest of the eagle. Shouting loudly, he discovered that neitherof the parents were at home. Taking off his shoes, he was ascendingtowards the nest, when, about halfway up, while he was standing on aledge, holding on tightly to a rock, he espied a hen eagle rapidlyapproaching, with a supply of food in her beak. Immediately, and with aterrible scream, she darted towards the intruder. Unable to defendhimself, he expected to have his eyes torn out, when he let go, andslipped to a broader ledge. Again the eagle pounced upon him; and soclose was she, that even then he could not get a shot at her. Indesperation, he took off his bonnet and threw it at the bird. She,seeing it fall, immediately followed it to the foot of the rock. Thisgave him an opportunity of bringing his gun to bear on her. The shottook effect, and she fell dead far below him.


  What interesting, confiding little birds are the robin redbreasts of ourown dear England!

  It was summer-time. An old lady lay in bed suffering from her lastillness. The bed was of large size, with a roof and four posts, thefoot of it being not far from the window. The lattice, with its diamondpanes, was open from morn till eve; and as the old lady thus lay calmand composed, and often alone, she observed a pair of robins enter bythe window and fly round the corner of the roof of her bed. Chirrupingto each other, they seemed to agree that just inside of the bed would bea nice spot for building their nest. Away they flew, and soon returnedwith straws and little sticks. Thus they quickly had a cozy little nestconstructed in a secure position, which no bird of prey or marauding catwas likely to reach.

  The lady would on no account allow of their being disturbed, and theyhad free ingress and egress. Here the hen laid her eggs, sitting uponthem, while Cock Robin brought her her daily meals. The eggs werehatched, and in this happy abode, greatly to the pleasure of the oldlady, their little family was reared; and before she died, they werefully fledged, and had flown away.


  A Duck and drake lived together, as husband and wife should do, in thebonds of mutual affection. The poultry-yard being assailed, the drakewas carried off by thieves. The poor bereaved duck exhibited evidentsigns of grief at her loss. Retiring into a corner, she satdisconsolate all day. No longer did she preen herself, as had been herwont. Scarcely could she be induced to waddle to the pond, nor wouldshe touch the food brought to her. It was thought, indeed, that shewould die.

  While in this unhappy condition, a drake, which by the same maraudershad been deprived of his mate, cast his eyes on her, and began toconsider that she might replace his lost companion. She, however,instead of offering him encouragement, repelled his advances withevident disdain.

  Search had been made for the thieves; and though they escaped, theirbooty was discovered, most of the birds alive and well, and among themthe affectionate duck's lost husband. On his return to the farmyard,the loving couple exhibited the liveliest joy at meeting. She had along story to tell, which the drake listened to with stern attention.No sooner was it finished than he glanced fiercely round the farmyard,and then, evidently with fell intentions, made his way towards where therival drake was digging worms from the soft mud. His pace quickened ashe approached his antagonist; then, with a loud quack, he flew at him,brought him to the ground, pecked out first one eye and then the other,and otherwise assaulted him so furiously, that his unfortunate foe sankat length lifeless beneath the blows of his strong bill.

  While I describe the bad example set by the drake, I must entreat younot to harbour even for a moment any angry feelings which may arise atinjuries done you.


  From the lofty cliffs at the back of the Isle of Wight, numerouswild-fowl may be seen whirling in rapid flight through the air, nowrising above the green downs, now descending to the blue surface of thewater. Towards the west end of that romantic island, in a hollowbetween the cliffs, is the village of Calbourne. Here, some time since,might have been seen, sailing over the village green, Old Phil, one ofthe white-winged birds I have described. Abandoning the wild freedom ofhis brethren, he had associated himself with the human inhabitants ofthe place. His chief friend was a grocer, near whose shop he wouldalight on a neighbouring wall, and receive with gratitude the bits ofcheese and other dainties which were offered him. At certain times ofthe year, however, he would take his departure, and generally returnwith a wife, whom he used to introduce to his old friends, that shemight partake of their hospitality. Not, indeed, that she would ventureso close to the grocer's shop, even for the sake of the cheese-parings;but she used to enter the village, and frequently spent her time at apond hard by, while Old Phil went to pay his respects to the purveyor ofgroceries.


  It is interesting to rear up animals or birds, and to watch theirprogress as they gain strength and sense, and thus remark their varioushabits and dispositions. Almost invariably, when kindly treated, theyreturn the care spent on them by marks of affection, though some exhibitit in a much less decree than others.

  Crows are considered wise birds; but, while understanding how to takecare of themselves, they are not celebrated for their affectionatedisposition. Still a crow may become fond of its owner.

  A gentleman had reared one from the nest, and it had long dwelt withhim, coming at his call, and feeding from his hand. At length itdisappeared, and he supposed it to have been killed. About a yearafterwards, as he was out walking one day, he observed several crowsflying overhead; when what was his surprise to see one of them leave theflock, fly towards him, and perch on his shoulder! He at oncerecognised his old friend, and spoke to it as he had been in the habitof doing. The crow cawed in return, but kept carefully beyond reach ofhis hand; showing that, having enjoyed a free existence, it did notintend to submit again to captivity. A few more caws were uttered. Itscompanions cawed likewise. The crow understood their call. Probablyits mate, and perhaps its young ones, were among them. Glancing towardsthem, and with a farewell caw at its old master, it spread its wings andjoined the flock; nor did it ever again return to its former abode.

  You will find it far more easy to give up good habits than to get rid ofbad ones. Be careful therefore to cherish the good ones. You can neverhave too many of them.


  The ostrich, which, with its long strides and small wings, traverses thesandy deserts of Africa at a rapid rate, lifting its head on thelook-out for danger, is generally spoken of as a stupid bird.Notwithstanding this character, it displays great affection for itsyoung, and some sense in other matters. Sometimes a pair may be seenwith a troop of twelve or more young ones, watching all their movements,and ready to call them away should a foe appear. Sometimes the youngare not much larger than Guinea-fowls; and as their parents are awarethat the little birds cannot run so fast as they themselves can, theyendeavour, when an enemy comes near, to draw him away from theircharges. The female generally undertakes this office, while the cockbird leads the brood in an opposite direction. Now the hen ostrichflies off before the horseman, spreading out or drooping her wings. Nowshe will throw herself on the ground before the foe, as if wounded,again to rise when he gets too near; and then, wheeling about, she triesto induce him to follow her. Thus she will proceed, trying similardevices, till she fancies that she has led her pursuer to a safedistance from the brood, when, abandoning her former tactics, she willdash off across the plain, fleet as the wind.


  Two blackbirds had built their nest in the thick bough of a tree whichoverhung a high paling. Here they fancied themselves secure from theprying eyes of idle boys or marauding cats. The hen laid her eggs inher new abode, and in due time several fledgelings were hatched, whichher faithful mate
assisted her to rear. While in the full enjoyment oftheir happiness, watching over their helpless young ones, they one daysaw what to them appeared a terrific monster--a large cat--leap to thetop of the paling, and begin cautiously creeping along it. So narrowwas it, however, that even Grimalkin could not venture to move fast.

  The parent blackbirds watched him with beating hearts as he crept on andon, his savage eyes turned up ever and anon when he stepped towardstheir nest, where their young ones were chirping merrily, unconscious ofdanger. In another instant he might make his fatal spring, and seizethem in his cruel jaws. The heart of the tender mother urged her torisk her own life for the sake of her offspring. Downward she flew,uttering loud screams of anger almost within reach of the marauder, butthe narrowness of the paling prevented him from leaping forward andseizing her in his claws. The brave father was not behind his mate incourage. He too pitched on the top of the fence directly in front ofGrimalkin. As the cat crept on he retreated, hoping to draw her pasthis nest; but the cruel plunderer's eye was too securely fixed on that.The cock, seeing this, darted with the courage of despair on the back ofhis enemy, and assailed him with such fierce and repeated pecks on thehead, that the cat, losing his balance, fell to the ground, and,astonished at the unexpected attack, scampered off, resolved, I hope,never again to molest the heroic blackbirds; while they flew back to thenest they had so bravely defended.


  I have often thought, while writing these stories, of a remark made byone of my boys, whom, when he was a very little fellow, I took to hear asermon to children at the Abbey Church of Malvern. The vicar gave anumber of interesting anecdotes of children who had assisted poorpeople, saved up their money for charitable purposes, made collectionsfor missionary objects; who had died young, happy to go to a betterworld, or had been brought to love Jesus at an early age, and had beenthe means of inducing their companions to love him too.

  My little boy, who was seated in my lap, listened, with eyes fixed onthe preacher, to every word that was said. At last one or two accountswere given which seemed to puzzle him greatly, and, casting an inquiringglance into my face, he whispered,--"Papa, papa! is 'um all true?"

  Now, perhaps some of you, my young friends, as you read the stories Ihave given you, will be inclined to ask, as did my little boy, "Is 'umall true?" I can reply to you, as I did to him, "Oh yes; I believe so."

  They are generally thoroughly well authenticated. A considerable numberhave been narrated to me by friends who witnessed the behaviour of theanimals, while several have come under my own observation.

  I trust, therefore, my dear young friends, that the narratives I havegiven you may not only prove interesting, but that you will learn fromthem to pay due respect to all animals, however mean and insignificantyou have been accustomed to think them. They think and reason in theirway. They not only suffer bodily pain, but they have feelings in aremarkable degree like your own; and you must own that it is cruel tohurt those feelings by ill-treatment or neglect.

  It is pleasant to read an interesting book; it is good to remember whatyou read, and better still to gain some useful lessons from it. This, Ihope, you will do from these stories about animals and the teachingsthey afford. I trust, therefore, that you will derive benefit, as wellas amusement, from this little book; and with earnest wishes that youmay do so, I bid you farewell.

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