Andrew Lang.

The red book of animal stories online

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were no more to be had, they would come down
to the sea-shore in search of shell-fish and particularly
of oysters. Though apparently reckless in many ways,
the monkey tribe have really a good deal of caution, and
if, as often happened, the oyster shells were a little open,
they were afraid of putting in their fingers lest the shell
should suddenly close, as with a spring. To prevent this,
the orang-outangs kept the two halves open by means of
a stone, so that they could enjoy their oyster to their



hearts' content without expecting to be held in a vice at
every moment.

Seventy or eighty years ago, the mountain ranges
of Cape Colony were infested by swarms of dog-faced
baboons, which came, like locuscs, to eat and carry away
all the ripe fruit from the gardens and orchards. They
are very quick, very impudent, and very cunning, and
when they lay their plans to rob a garden, they tell off
some of the band as sentinels, who give instant warning
at the approach of danger. If they are left undisturbed
they will not only make an excellent dinner, but will stuff
the pouches they have in their cheeks with fruit, to be
eaten quietly when they get home.

A traveller by the name of Le Vaillant, who was ex-
ploring in South Africa, captured a dog-faced baboon which
he called Kees. The two soon became very fond of each
other,and were constant companions, for the ape was quick
at seeing (or smelling) the presence of wild beasts when
the dogs were quite unable to detect them. Le Vaillant
turned his greediness and curiosity to account, and
never allowed any of his followers to eat strange fruits or
plants till Kees had first eaten them, as no ape can bear
to pass by food, especially food of a kind he has never
seen before. When he threw the fruit away, after merely
tasting it, they knew that it was better left alone. Even
out hunting, Kees' appetite proved too much for him.
He would climb up trees in the hope of finding gum,
and dive into hidden places in the rocks where experience
had taught him that honey was sometimes to be got.
If he could discover neither gum nor honey, he would
search for roots, which were the next best thing. There
was one in particular which his master enjoyed nearly
as much as he did, and when Kees' sharp eyes beheld the
leaves, he made all the haste he could to keep it all to
himself. First, of course, he had to pull it out of the
ground, and that was not so easy, He did not use his


hands this would have taken too long, and besides, the
earth was often very hard ; but he grasped the plant firmly
with his teeth, set his feet tight, and threw back his head
with a jerk. If this failed to extract the root, he would
then fix his teeth in the stem closer to the ground, and
turn head over heels. This was too much for the root,
which always came out directly.

Having once got possession of his prize, the next
thing was to eat it. He would look carefully round to
see where his master was, and would gobble it up more
or less fast, according to the distance Le Vaillant was
from him, never moving his eyes from the explorer's
feet all the while. If, however, his master came on him
unexpectedly, he would hastily try to hide the root and pre-
tend that he knew nothing about it ; but a light box on
the ear soon obliged him to share the morsel with his

In the course of a long day's hunting, Kees, much as
he enjoyed the expedition, often got very tired, and used
to ride one of the dogs, who, being very good-natured,
would carry him for whole hours at a time. As a rule,
none of the dogs hated him ; indeed he kept them all
in order, and if any of them attempted to interfere with
him when he was eating, he would adopt the method of
his master, and send the intruder away with a box on the

But the biggest and strongest dog of the pack was
less good-natured than the rest, and whether from pride
or laziness, very much objected to act the part of a beast
of burden. So when Kees took it in his head to jump on
him, he merely stood still and let all the others get well
in front of him. Kees could not endure to remain behind
anybody, and thumped the dog and pulled his ears to
make him go on. But neither thumps nor pulls pro-
duced any effect ; the dog would not stir. At last,
seeing there was no help for it, Kees got down, and both
he and the dog raced as fast as they could to join the


rest ; the dog taking care, however, to keep behind, so that
he might run no risk of finding Kees again on his back.

Kees was horribly afraid of snakes, as many human
beings are, who have not the least dread of wild animals.


But even snakes did not fill him with such terror as his
own relations nobody could guess why. At the mere
sight of an ape he would scream with fear, and, trembling


all over, would creep between the legs of one of the men.
After such a shock it was a long while before he was
himself again. Being an ape, Kees was of course a
terrible thief, and very clever he'was at stealing. It was
difficult to know how to keep things out of his way, and
punishment only made him more cunning. As for hanging
up a basket containing milk or any kind of food for which
Master Kees had a fancy, it was no good at all ! One
day, his master had boiled some beans for dinner, and
had just put them on his plate, when his attention was
attracted by the note of a strange bird just outside his
tent. Le Vaillant jumped up, seized his gun and rushed
off in search of the bird, which he secured in a few
minutes. When he came back to his dinner neither
beans nor Kees were to be seen. Of course, Le Vaillant
knew what had become of both ; but he expected that
Kees would appear at tea-time, as he always did when he
had been stealing, and seat himself in his usual place
with the most innocent face in the world. However, this
particular evening nothing was heard of him, and when
another whole day passed and no Kees, his master grew
very anxious. At last, on the third day, a man, who had
been sent to fetch water from the river, reported that he
had caught a glimpse of Kees, but that directly the
baboon had seen him he had hidden himself in the bushes.
On this Le Vaillant called his dogs and went straight to
the place where the truant had been hiding, but for a
long while could find no trace of the creature. At length
he heard a cry just the sound of reproach that Kees
always made when he had been left behind on a hunting
expedition, but the animal himself was not visible. His
master, in despair, was almost giving up the search, when
he suddenly spied the baboon sitting overhead among
the thick branches of a tree. Le Vaillant called to him
in his friendliest tones, but Kees thought it was only a
trap, and would not stir, though he made no attempt to
move when his master climbed up after him and coaxed


him to come down. When they reached the tent it was
quite plain that he remembered his fault, and expected to
be punished ; but Le Vaillant was too glad to get his pet
back to take any further notice. Besides, what would
have been the use ?

In spite of his penitence or the shame of having been
found out Kees went on stealing as badly as ever. At
least every article of food that disappeared especially
eggs was always said to have been taken by him, and
Le Vaillant determined to discover how far the charge
was true. So one day he hid himself near where the hen
was kept and waited till her loud cackling told all whom
it might concern that she had laid an egg. Kees, who
had been sitting patiently on a cart, at once jumped down
and ran towards the egg, when his master strolled care-
lessly towards him. In an instant he stopped, assumed
his most innocent air, and balanced himself on his hind
legs, as if he had merely come out to see the sun rise.
His master pretended not to be aware of the meaning of
all this, and turned his back on the bush where the egg
lay. Of course the baboon seized it with a bound, and,
when Le Vaillant looked round, he was in the very act
of swallowing the coveted treasure.

A good whipping followed, but that did not save the
eggs, so Le Vaillant hit upon another plan. He shut
Kees carefully up for a few mornings, while he trained
one of the dogs to find the egg and bring it to him without
breaking it. Then Kees was let out and Le Vaillant
watched with some curiosity to see what would happen.
What did happen was this. As soon as the hen began
to cackle both ape and dog ran a race to the nest. Each
tried to reach the egg first, and in general it was Kees
who was the lucky one. If the dog managed to pick it
up he brought it straight to his master and laid it in his
hand, Kees all the while following, muttering and making
faces at him, though he seemed pleased that the dog did
not wish to eat the egg himself. If Kees was the victor


he bolted with it up the nearest tree, where he ate it in
peace, pelting his enemy with the broken shells. Then
the dog would return to his master with his tail between
his legs.

This was the bad side of Kees ; but he had a great
many very good qualities. He was an early riser, and
when he was up himself he woke the dogs, who held him
in great awe, and signed to them to take up their different
positions about the tent, which they did without a
moment's delay. Then he was devoted to his master,
who gives many instances of his loyalty and affection.
One day, an officer in fun pretended to strike Le Vaillant,
and Kees at the sight became so violent he could hardly
be restrained or pacified. The officer, who had not expected
the action would make such a deep impression, tried to
appease him by offers of fruit, but quite in vain. Never
again would the faithful creature have anything to do
with the man, and if he caught sight of him ever so far off
he would cry and grind his teeth and prepare to fly at him ;
so that at last, during the officer's stay in the camp, it was
necessary to chain him down.

Many, too, were the hardships shared by the pair of
friends out hunting, and here, again, Kees' fidelity never
failed. The man might sink to the ground worn out with
heat and fatigue, parched with thirst, and fainting with
hunger, but the monkey never left his side. If there was
anywhere within reasonable distance a root or tree that
would give them a little relief, Kees would scent it out.
Sometimes when found it would have no stalk, so the
root could not be extracted in the usual way. Then Kees
began to scratch up the hard-baked earth with his claws
a painful as well as a slow process and it was lucky
that his master had a hunting-knife with which to come
to the rescue. How they would both enjoy that root,
when, after so many struggles, they got it at last !

How surprised a traveller would be if, in the course



of his wanderings, he happened to come upon a flock of
goats with a baboon for their guardian ! Yet this strange
sight might have been met with in the land of the
Namaquas, about seventy years ago. His master had
caught him when a baby, and carefully trained him up
to this duty, which he fulfilled as well as any Scotch sheep
dog that ever lived. Every morning the baboon drove his
charges out to the fields for pasture, and every evening
he brought them safe back again, riding always on the


back of the last, so that lie might keep an eye on any
stragglers. For wages, he was given the milk of one
goat, and he was most particular in keeping to his part
of the bargain, and in guarding the others from the hot
and thirsty children, who would have been glad of a
drink. In the evening his master would give him a
little meat for supper.

But the poor fellow was not long left in peace to
perform his task. One day, when he was sleeping in the


low branches of a tree, he was seen by a leopard, who
happened to be wanting a dinner, and after creeping
stealthily up, with one bound he landed on the baboon's
neck, and there was an end of him.

The Namaquas used to complain that it was difficult
to keep a child, for the baboons were sure to steal it,
perhaps in revenge for some teasing on the part of the

One evening, some little Namaquas were sent out with
bows and arrows to play in the woods just outside the
village. When it grew dark they all came home again,
and it was not until they were close to the huts that they
missed the youngest of the party, a boy of five or six, who,
being very tired, had lingered behind the rest. Seeing he
was alone, a crowd of chattering baboons came swiftly
down from their perches in the trees, and seizing the boy
in their long arms, carried him off to the mountains.

Next day the whole village turned out as soon as it
was light in search of the child, but neither boy nor
baboons could be seen anywhere.

For a whole year the parents gave up the boy for lost,
when one night a man from another tribe came riding
through the village, and mentioned, during the course
of conversation, that a long way off he had noticed the
trail of baboons, and in the midst the footprints of a child.
The villagers set out directly on hearing this news, and
when they reached the place described by the hunter,
they saw the little boy seated on a high rock, with a big
baboon beside him. At the sight of the men the baboon
caught up the boy and tried to make off with him, but
after a hard chase he was at length surrounded, and forced
to give up the child. Far from being pleased at his
release from captivity, the boy, who had become quite
wild, fought and cried, and even tried to get back to his
long-armed friends. He had forgotten, too, how to talk,
and it took him some time to pick up his own language
again. When at last he had settled down to his old life,


the child said that the baboons had been very kind to
him, and that seeing he did not like their own favourite
food of scorpions and spiders, had given him roots and
gum and wild grapes, while, when they came to a spring,
they never thought of drinking till he had had his fill.
No wonder he missed the good manners of the baboons
when he came back to his native Namaquas.



FROM the very earliest times English people have shown
a great love of greyhounds, although as long ago as the
days of Canute, no man who was not born a gentleman
was allowed to keep one. It must have been their beauty
that made them such favourites, and their pretty, caressing
ways, for they have not the cleverness of many other
kinds of dogs, though their great speed renders them
very useful in hunting small game, and even bucks and
deer. An old rhyme puts in a few words the qualities
that a man would look for in a greyhound, when, as often
happened, he wished to send one as a present to a lady,
and was anxious to get the best of its kind. It must be

Headed lyke a snake,
Neckyed lyke a drake,
Footyed lyke a catte,
Taylled lyke a ratte,
Syded lyke a terne,
And chyned lyke a herne.

When this prize was laid at the feet of the lady, the giver
might ask in return for anything he chose, for women at
all times have loved greyhounds, perhaps because there
is something that reminds one of a lady in their long
necks, small heads, and Light delicate figures.

No other breed of dogs has been so often mentioned
in history, or has had so many laws made about it.
Besides the regulation of King Canute, we find King John
taking greyhounds as payment for debts, and accepting



them as fines. Edward III. kept large numbers of them
' near his palace at Waltham, not far from Epping Forest,
so that they might always be handy when he wished
to hunt. The greyhounds have disappeared, but they
have left their name behind them, and the place of the
royal kennels is still known as the Isle of Dogs.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth a set of rules for the
sport was drawn up by the Duke of Norfolk, and by
these rules any doubtful question is still judged. The
Queen delighted in coursing, which in those days meant
the chasing of deer as well as of hares, and even when she
did not care to follow herself, used to sit on some high
place and look on from afar. The Stuarts, too, always
had greyhounds about them, and of course the courtiers
shared their taste ; and many are the pictures of the
seventeenth century where greyhounds have had, like
their mistresses, their portraits painted by the most
famous artists.

Froissart, the chronicler, tells a curious story of a grey-
hound that belonged to Richard II., and was so fond of
his master that he did not seem to know there was any
one else in the world. It was the only friend the king
had when he was imprisoned in the Castle of Flint, and
Eichard believed that it was clever enough to understand
things that had not yet come to pass. ' It was informed
me,' says Froissart, ' that Kyng Richard had a grayhound
called Mathe, who always waited upon the Kynge, and
would know no one else. For whensoever the Kynge did
ryde, he that kept the grayhound, did let him lose, and
he wolde streyght runne to the Kynge and fawne upon
him, and leap with his fore fete upon the Kynge's
shoulders. And as the Kynge and the Erie of Derby
talked togyder in the courte, the Grayhounde, who \vas
wont to leape upon the Kynge, left the Kynge, and came
to the Erie of Derby, Duke of Lancaster, and made to him
the same friendly countinuance and chere as he was
wont to do to the Kynge. The Duke, who knew not


the grayhounde, demanded of the Kynge what the gray-
hounde would do ?

' " Cosyn," quod the Kynge, " it is a great good token
to you, and an evil sygne to me."

' " Sir, how know ye that ? " quod the Duke.

' " I know it well," quod the Kynge ; " the grayhound
maketh you chere this day as Kynge of England, as ye
shall be, and I shall be deposed ; the grayhounde hath
thjs knowledge naturally, therefore take hym to you, he
will follow you and forsake me." The Duke understoode
well those w r ords, and cheryshed the grayhounde, who
would never after follow Kynge Richard, but followed
the Duke of Lancaster.'

Among the kings who made friends and pets of grey-
hounds, we must not forget Frederick the Great, who
generally did not waste love upon anybody ! He even
carried his affection for them so far that he used to take
a small variety, known as the Italian greyhound, with him
in his campaigns. Once, during the Seven Years' War, he
was out inspecting the ground with a view to a battle,
when he accidentally got separated from his officers.
Hearing a party of Austrians approaching, he picked up
his greyhound, and hid under the arch of a bridge that
crossed a little stream close by. The enemy, who knew
that he was somewhere about, passed the bridge several
times in search of him, and Frederick waited in terror,
expecting every moment that a bark from his dog would
betray him. But the dog seemed to understand how
much depended on his silence, and remained perfectly
still, till the footsteps had died away. On the death of
the little fellow, some time after, he was buried in the dogs'
graveyard, belonging to the palace, where each dog has a
tombstone, and on it is engraved his name and the
good qualities which marked him when alive.

Although, in general, greyhounds are not so ingenious
as other dogs, now and then one shows himself sur
prisingly clever in getting what he has set his mind on.


A story is told of a little Italian greyhound who lived at
Bologna in Italy, and was a great favourite with his
master. Bologna is a cold place, and greyhounds are
often delicate, so a jacket was made for him to wear at
night. It was tied on tightly with strings, which were all
very well as long as he was lying down in front of the
warm stove, but became very troublesome when he
wanted to move about and play. So the first thing when
he woke he used to run off to anybody in the house who
was dressed as early as himself, and jump up on them,
and lick their hands till they understood what he was
saying, and unfastened his jacket. One day, however,
everyone was either ill or busy, and had no time to attend
to him, so it occurred to him that, perhaps, if he
were to rub himself against the chairs or along the
carpet, those tiresome strings would get untied. To his
great joy this plan succeeded, and after that he could do
without anyone's help. The moment the jacket was off,
and the front door open, he rushed across the road to
visit another greyhound who lived there with a family, to
beg him to come out for a walk. Very often they would
spend hours together running races, or playing hide-and-
seek between the arches which abound in the streets of
Bologna ; but he never missed going home to his dinner
at twelve o'clock, and again in the evening.

If his friend's front door w r as not open so early as his
own, he would bark loudly to awaken the lazy people ; but
as they w r ere fond of their beds, they grew very angry,
and shied stones to drive him away. Then he stood so
close to the door that the stones could not hit him, and
barked triumphantly on, till suddenly the door was flung
open, and a man appeared with a whip. The dog could
not think of any way to get the better of the whip, so he
walked off to consider what was to be done.

A few days later, he went back to the door and waited
quietly till it was opened ; but the people had taken a.
dislike to him, on account of all the trouble he had given


them ; and as soon as they saw him, drove him away.
After that he did not go near them for some time, and
when he paid his next visit, placed himself out of reach
both of stones and whip, and then barked away as loudly
as ever.

He had nearly barked himself hoarse out of pure re-
venge, when a boy came to the house, seized the knocker,
and let it fall again. Then, to the surprise of the dog, the
door was opened, and the boy entered the house. When
he had recovered a little from his astonishment, he crept
slowly along the wall, till he reached the very place
where the boy had stood. Then he jumped up to try
to catch hold of the knocker, but it was high up, and
he had to jump a great many times before he managed
to catch it between his teeth. It fell with a great bang,
and some one called out, ' Who's there ? ' and, as the dog
was silent, came to the door and threw it open. In flew
the dog, and ran straight to his friend, whom he had not
seen for so long, and received a warm welcome. The
family were so much amused at his cleverness that this
time they let him stay, and whenever his morning ' rat-
tat ' was heard, it was a race between the children as to
who should answer it.

At the time when I am now writing (Dec. 20, 1897),
there is an account in the papers of the rescue of a dog
from a ledge on one of the highest and steepest cliffs in
Dover. Some boys looking down from the top, saw the
little liver-coloured creature lying, with a lady's hat
beside it, more than two hundred feet below, and told the
police, who said it was quite impossible to get at her. A
week passed and the dog was still there, and the boys
could stand it no longer. With tbe help of a man named
Joys, they drove footholes into the cliff from beneath, and
managed to reach the little spaniel, after a dangerous climb
of about a hundred feet, while the coast-guard let down
ropes from above, and hauled them all up together. The


poor little thing was terribly weak from her long fast, and
the nights and days she had passed on the rock, and Joys,
who carried her 'home, feared that it was too late to bring
her back to life. But the careful nursing of himself and
his wife has done wonders, and she is as strong as ever
she was.

How she ever got to that ledge, or what has become
of her mistress, is still a mystery, and perhaps it always
will be. Whether the hat was blown over the cliff, and
the poor lady, trying to catch it, overbalanced herself
and was carried out to sea, while the hat remained stuck
on the rocks, and was followed by the dog, nobody knows,
and most likely never will. But the dog has become
quite a famous person, and several offers have been made
to buy her from her kind hosts, so that she is quite sure

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe red book of animal stories → online text (page 13 of 22)