Andrew Lang.

The red book of animal stories online

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towards him, let his axe fall for fear. But the lion came
very lovingly towards him, fawning quietly upon his
breast with his forefeet, and licking his face with his
tongue ; which gentleness of the lion the man perceiving,
he was much astonished, and being more and more
embraced and fawned on by the lion, he followed him,
leaving his axe behind him which he had let fall, which
the lion perceiving went back, and made signs with his
foot to the carpenter that he should take it up. But the
lion perceiving that the man did not understand his
signs, he brought it himself in his mouth, and delivered
it unto him, and so led him into the cave where the young
whelps lay all imbrued in their own blood, and then led
him where the lioness did watch the bear. She, therefore,
seeing them both coming, as one that knew her husband's
purpose, did signify unto the man that he should consider



of the miserable slaughter of her young whelps, and
showing him by signs that he should look up into the
tree where the bear was, which when the man saw, he
conjectured that the bear had done some grievous injury
unto them. He therefore took his axe, and hewed down
the tree by the roots, which being so cut, the bear
tumbled down headlong, which the two furious beasts
seeing, they tore her all to pieces. And afterwards the
lion conducted the man unto the place and work where
he first met him, and there left him, without doing the
least violence or harm unto him.'

Topsel, and the ancient authors from whom he quotes,
who only knew lions by hearsay, had a much higher
opinion of the tribe than Livingstone and modern travel-
lers, who have made their personal acquaintance. He
says nothing of their dread of man or ever-present dread
of pitfalls! To Topsel, the lion is just a mass of noble
qualities, and an example to all men in the matter of
family affection. But, then, people often seem different,
to those who know them best, from what they do to
strangers !

' Neither do the old lions love their young ones in vain
and without recompense,' he ends up, as the moral of the
last story, ' for in their old age they requite it again ; then
do the young ones both defend them from the annoyance
of enemies and also maintain and feed them by their own
labour ; for they take them forth to hunting, and when, as
their decrepid and withered estate is not able to follow
the game, the younger pursueth and taketh it for him ;
having obtained it, roareth mightily like the voice of
some warning piece, to signify unto his elder that he
should come on to dinner, and if he delay, he goeth to
seek him where he left him, or else carry the prey unto
him. At the sight thereof, in gratulation of natural
kindness, and also for the joy of good success, the old one
first licketh and kisseth the younger, and afterward enjoy
the booty in common between them.'


It is not often that a dog which has been carried off
by a lion comes back to tell the tale, yet that is what
happened to Blucher when he went hunting in South
Africa with Mr. Selous in the year 1882. l

One night his master was lying awake, reading, in his
camp in Mashonaland, when he heard Blucher and the
rest of the dogs set up a furious barking lower down the
valley. Selous sat up and listened, and as the noise
seemed always coming nearer, he called one of his men
and asked him what was the matter.

' It must be a lion/ he said ; ' Blucher would never
retreat like that before a hyena ' for hyenas are great
cowards and easily frightened.

As he spoke Selous jumped down from his bed on the
waggon, and, followed by Norris, walked to the edge of
the camp. It was pitch dark, and they could see nothing ;
but suddenly the barking ceased, and some large animals
came tearing past, while the puppies dashed in for shelter
between the men's legs, almost upsetting them. Then
one of the natives rushed up from their camp a little
further off, shouting ' Lion ! lion ! Lion has caught big

Selous felt very sorry for the loss of his old friend,
but he took comfort in thinking he must have been killed
in a moment, or some yelps of pain would have been

However, the hunter armed himself with his rifle and
went back with the native to his camp, where all the men
were sitting up, talking softly round big fires. One or two
declared they were sure some animal was creeping about
in the dead leaves outside the camp ; but as, after a search,
nothing could be found, Selous got tired of standing about
in the cold, and went back to his own waggon. He was
just dropping off to sleep when the puppies again set up
a furious yapping, and a Kaffir shouted out, ' Here's the

1 Travel and Adventure in Africa. By F. C. Selous.



lion, he has taken the skin,' for the skin of a freshly killed
antelope, which had been hung up inside the camp, had
disappeared altogether. The Kaffir boy, who had been
sitting behind the fire, had seen the lion come straight
through a hole in the fence close to the dogs, and quite
near the horses, and pick up one of the three skins rolled
up on the ground. The lion does not seem to have noticed
(or smelt) the horses, or they him, which proves that there


is no truth in the story that horses always scent lions
from a great distance.

Notwithstanding all this excitement, Selous, who was
very tired, returned, for the third time, to bed, and for a
time all was pretty still. Then, again, there was heard
the dash of the puppies from outside the camp, and one
of the men observed that a lion must be about. On
this Selous got up, and looking at the antelope skins
discovered that another had been taken away. So he


carried off the last remaining one and threw it for safety
on the waggon where he himself slept. As the dawn was
not now very far off, he lit a candle and took up his

Not an hour later he was aroused by a great rattling
in the direction of a large packing case outside the camp,
where some tools had been left lying. He sprang up,
with Norris after him, and in the dim light he saw the
white case being shoved about, though it was still too
dark for him to make out the lion. However, Selous
aimed straight at the case, and absolute quiet followed
his shot ; but only for a moment, then the case began to
move more wildly than ever, till a second shot caused its
dancing to cease.

Everybody felt by this time that they never wished to
see a lion again, and dogs and men alike stretched them-
selves out wearily. But it was barely half an hour later
when all the noises began afresh, and the waggon itself
was shaken. The lion had positively returned to the
charge, and not finding any more new antelope skins on
the ground had been obliged to put up with an old one,
which -was hanging to dry on a platform between two
poles. When he got on to that platform, which he pro-
bably did with a spring, he was within six feet of Norris
and another boy.

Except for the sound of the lions crunching the leg
bones of the antelopes (which had been left in the skins)
in the open ground by the river, nothing further happened
that night. With the first streaks of dawn Selous got up
and peered about him ; in the faint light he made out
something which he took to be an ant-heap, but it turned
out to be a lion, and nearer the river was the lioness and
two or three little dots of cubs.

Thinking that they had gone to drink, and would soon
be seen climbing up the steep bank which overhung the
stream, Selous crept after them in order to get a better
shot. But when he reached the place where they had


disappeared no lions were there ! In vain he sent for his
horse and galloped backwards and forwards down one
bank, while Norris did the same on the other. The lions
had gone down the river under cover of the high bank,
and had got safely away to the forest.

They were all, of course, determined not to spend such
another night as the last, so they set a gun trap for stray
visitors, and baited it with a large piece of meat. They
had just finished their preparations when a cry was heard
from one of the Kaffirs, and turning round Selous saw
poor Blucher come slowly and painfully up by way of the
river. He was covered all over with wounds, and had
four holes in the loose skin of his neck, where the lion
had seized him. How he had escaped, or why he had
waited so long before returning to camp, no one ever
knew ; but he wagged his tail feebly at the voice of his
master. They did everything they could for him, and in
time his wounds healed ; but he never got really well, and
only grew thinner and thinner till one morning he was
found quite dead.



FIFTY years ago, when Colonel Gordon Gumming, then
a young man, was sent out to join his regiment in the
country of the Mahrattas, India was full of tigers, bears,
wild boars, and other fierce beasts, who were the terror of
the native villages. The district is hilly and rocky, and
abounds in rivers and thick jungles, which afford shelter
for even the largest animals, who would comedown at night
and carry off goats, oxen, or even men. The English sol-
diers asked nothing better than to be allowed to put a stop
to this state of things, and many were the adventures
that happened to them in their shooting expeditions.

Here and there, indeed, an old man was to be found
who, like old Kamah, was at peace with the tigers, and
looked on any injury done them as an insult to himself.
' 1 have no quarrel with tigers,' he exclaimed indignantly,
when the hunters found him beating his fifteen-year-old
son for shooting a tiger who had carried off a tame
buffalo. ' I live in the jungle, and the tigers are my
friends. I never injured one of them, they never injured
me ; and while there was peace between us I went among
them without fear. But now, now

Kamah's view of the tigers was, however, not common ;
and, in general, the natives would gladly turn out to help
in hunting down their natural enemies.

Sometimes platforms were built in the trees, carefully
chosen near the track the tiger was likely to follow, but
this was not always very safe, for tigers are great jumpers,


and, when maddened by wounds, have been known to pull
down a man in a tree. This happened once in an expe-


dition of Colonel Gordon Cumming's, when he took his
stand with his gun-bearer on some branches which grew
about eight feet up the stem of a tall tree. The tree was


on a slope, close to a small rocky ravine, and beyond the
ravine was a jungle in which lay the tiger.

The two men had not waited long before they saw a
black and yellow body moving at a brisk trot, on the
further side of the ravine, having been roused from his
lair by the natives. Gordon Gumming fired, but the shot
only wounded the tiger slightly, and he turned and plunged
into the jungle. The hunter, having fired the other three
balls after him, without touching him at all, gave him up
for lost, and did not even reload his gun. Suddenly there
was a cry that the tiger was coming back, and, sure enough,
there he was crossing the ravine, and making for the
slope. When he reached the tree he stood still. There
was no time to load ; all they could do was to sit quiet,
hardly daring to breathe, hoping that the tiger would pass
them by. And most likely he would have done so had
not the native whispered in a low voice that the tiger was
below. The beast looked up, and with a flying leap landed
on tjhe trunk of the tree, close to the man's legs. Digging
his long claws firmly into the bark, he seized the poor
fellow's waist-cloth in his teeth, and dragged him to the
ground, biting him severely in the thigh as they rolled
over together. The Scotchman did all he could to scare
the tiger, by shouting and by flinging his cap straight in his
face ; this startled the animal, and, letting go his prey, he
ran down the hill. Gordon Gumming then came hastily
to see if Foorsut was badly hurt, and found that there
were twelve severe wounds at the back of the thigh. He
was put on a litter of twisted boughs, and earned back
to the camp to have his wounds dressed by a native
doctor, and then the officers both mounted an elephant
and went in chase of the tiger. He had not gone very
far, and one shot soon disposed of him. He was a good,
large specimen, about ten or eleven feet long, and made
a fine skin.

As to the unlucky Foorsut, who had nothing but his
own folly to thank for his injuries, he seemed doing well,


and to have escaped any injuries to his leg bone. His
friends were quite happy about him till the morning of
the second day, when his fingers began suddenly to
twitch, and by four that afternoon Foorsut was dead.

Some time after this adventure Colonel Gordon
Gumming was sent to do some work in the country
beyond the Nerbudda, which was, at that period overrun
with tigers. The animals found shelter in the broken
ground, covered with high grass and sharp, prickly shrubs,
from which they would steal out to attack cattle and
sometimes men.

One day a villager came to Colonel Gordon Gumming,
and told him that a tiger had rushed out and killed a
man who had been gathering gum from a tree, in company
with two friends ; and they, being unarmed, could do
nothing to save him.

As it was almost sunset, and the man was known to
be dead, nothing was done that night ; but as soon as it
was light next morning, Gordon Gumming, with two
officers, rode off to the jungle. Here some men were
waiting with guns and elephants, and the place of attack
being arranged, they went first to the gum trees where
the man had met his death.

His body was still lying on the ground, bloody where
the tiger's teeth had torn it, but otherwise untouched,
which looked as if the tigers had all gone elsewhere.
However, men were sent up the trees to report if anything
was to be seen, and the British officers took up their
positions and advanced into the jungle.

They had not gone very far before a huge tiger sprung
out of a watercourse where it had been hiding, and
dashed up the bank. He was too far off to hit with
certainty, and the bullets sent after him only put him out
of temper, and he growled loudly as he disappeared into
the nearest thicket. The hunters followed on his track
at a safe distance, and once they caught sight of him, but
again he was off, and was reported by the men in the


trees to have hidden in some bushes on the edge of a ravine.
Slowly the elephants followed in his trail, when suddenly


the tiger broke away from his hiding place, about eighty
vards away. They fired, and this time he was touched,


but not badly. Taking refuge again in the bushes, he
was lost to view.

Eeloading their guns, the officers were entering the
jungle, when the tiger started up in front, not twenty
yards away, and came on with a rush. A bullet checked
his advance for a moment, but he charged again, and the
riders expected to see him the next instant grappling
with the elephants. But, instead, he sprang right through
the animals, and disappeared in the ravine.

Very cautiously the British officers went after him,
searching each patch of grass and clump of bushes, lest
he should be hidden there. But no tiger was to be found
anywhere. At last they had reached the top of the ravine,
which was almost filled by a huge green bush, and,
though by this time they all felt nearly sure the tiger
must have escaped them, they determined to know what
was behind that bush. The green leaves were already
tickling the elephant's trunk, when it was seized by the
tiger, who held it fast between his teeth, while he dug his
claws deep into the animal's face. The elephant, mad
with pain, gave a frightful shriek, and tried to gore the
tiger with his tusks, which was not so easy ; and in his frantic
plunges the driver ran a great risk of being thrown from
his seat, and trampled to death between them. At length
a furious shake forced the tiger to loosen his hold, and
he turned and fled down the ravine, while the elephant
danced with passion on the bank. When he had grown a
little calmer, they all turned and went after the tiger.

He was at last brought to bay a hundred yards
further down, and this time sprang straight at the head
of one of the other elephants. But the shots he had
already received were now beginning to tell, and his
attack was not so fierce as before. Another ball ended
his struggles ; he let go the elephant's trunk, and, rolling
heavily on the ground, turned over quite dead.



IF we travel about from one country to another, we shall
find that each one has a particular kind of dog which is
considered useful and precious above all others. In
Scotland it is the collie which is most prized, in the
high Alps it is the St. Bernard, while in Greenland no
one would get on at all without the Eskimo dogs, who
draw sledges and do quantities of other needful work,
and in Newfoundland there are very few houses which
cannot boast of one of the huge black good-natured dogs
who are equally ready to be nurses to the children, or to
jump into the water to save a drowning man.

Now, in the high plains of Kordofan, which lie to the
west of the White Nile, the greyhound or wind dog, as it
is called by the Germans, is held in great honour. If
you walk through any of the villages, you will see three
or four greyhounds lying before the door of every hut,
each one more beautiful than the other. They are the
viUage policemen, and guard the people from the fierce
leopards and hyaenas which steal down at night from the
caves where they sleep all day, and prowl round in search
of a supper. Like their enemies, the greyhounds sleep
during the long hot hours when the sun is up, but the
moment he sinks, and the quick darkness of the tropics
comes on, they stretch themselves and begin to set
about performing their duties. There is no quarrelling
or confusion each dog seems to have his post, and he
goes to it at once. If the village is walled in, a certain


number will betake themselves to the walls, while others
mount to the thatched roofs of the low rourj.d huts, and
lie quietly down, their eyes open and their ears at full cock,
waiting to catch the slightest sound. Sometimes, when the
hyaenas and leopards have been particularly fierce, a dog
or two will take up positions in the outskirts of the
village, to give the first warning of danger. Here and
there, early in the evening, a bark or a growl may be
heard, but as the darkness deepens these die away and
all is still, till suddenly the village is awakened by the
sound of a battle. Barely does a night pass without
something of the kind. In a few minutes every dog is
gathered at the place w r here the enemy has come up, and
directly he is dead on the ground, they leave him there,
and go proudly back to their posts. Only em one occasion
is their courage known to fail, and that is When the robber
turns out to be a lion. Then the conquerors of leopards
and hyaenas tremble with fear, and shrink howling into
some safe corner or hide themselves amongst the thorny
hedges that surround the village.

Twice in every week the dogs were given a rare treat.
Very early on these mornings the sound of a horn was
heard, and then \vhat stir there was among them ! From
each house three or four came bounding to the place from
which the noise proceeded, and in a few minutes after
the first blast, fifty or sixty dogs were gathered together.
Like eager boys they crowded round the man, jumping
up on him or running to and fro with excitement, howling,
barking, yelping, snarling, jostling each other to get
nearest to the trumpeter, and really behaving as if they had
all gone mad. In the midst of all this confusion the
young men arrived, bearing in their hands lances and
ropes, and sought out their own dogs from the throng.
From five to six were led by each man, and hard work it
was to get the" restless creatures leashed together,
jumping and barking all the while with joy ! At last
all was ready arid the hunting procession moved out of


the village, and very fine it was ! They seldom
went far ; the neighbouring w y oods were full of game,
and thanks to the skill and quickness of the dogs, the
men had an easy time of it. The leash was slipped,
and the dogs dashed into the thickets, and soon re-
appeared, bringing with them all sorts of game bustards,
guinea-hens, or anything else that they happened to come
across. If they spied an antelope, five or six would join
to chase him, and it was seldom, indeed, that he got
away. At the end of the day the spoil was counted over,
and was found to consist of antelopes, hares, birds, and
often wild animals, such as pariah dogs or desert foxes.

The greyhounds are the pride of the dwellers in the
Kordofan desert, and every man thinks his own dog the
most beautiful and clever in the world. This breed is
not to be found among the Arabs who live among the
marshes that border the Nile, and if by any chance one
of the desert highlanders wanders that way with his dogs,
one or two are sure to be snapped up by the crocodiles.
Those dogs who are born and brought up on the banks
of the Nile seldom fall a prey to these terrible creatures.
If they are thirsty, they never drink till they have looked
carefully up and down to make certain that their dreaded
enemy is not lurking close at hand. But the desert dog,
who knows nothing about rivers or crocodiles, leaps gaily
into the stream, and is dragged underneath by his

In the west of the Sahara, dogs, as a rule, are only
valued for their uses, and are not treated at all kindly ;
but all the care and affection that the Arab has to give,
he bestows on the greyhound. His dog is the apple of
his eye, and the two almost eat from the same dish, and
share the same sleeping mat. A Sahara Arab will travel
joyfully twenty or thirty miles to find a suitable wife for
his beloved companion.

A really good greyhound is so swift that it can over-
take a gazelle in a very short time ; and there is a saying


among the Arabs, that if one catches sight of a gazelle
grazing, he will catch it before it has time to swallow the
food that is in its mouth.



The little greyhound pups are petted from the time
they are born, and the villagers bring presents of milk
and other things to the mother. There is no flattery they
will spare, and no promise they do not give, for the
chance of getting one of the puppies for their own. ' I
am your friend, my brother,' they will say ; ' grant me,
I pray you, the favour that I ask. When you start for
the hunt, I will go with you ; I will serve you and help
you as a friend may.' Then the master of the grey-
hound answers that in seven days he will make up his
mind whether he will part with the puppy or not, and
till then the man must wait. This is because in every
litter of greyhound puppies, one is always better than
the rest, and in order to find out which is the cleverest the
owner will take it away from its mother's side before it is
seven days old, and see if it can get back by itself. If
it can, he believes ihe pup will turn out a great prize, worth
the best negro slave that could be offered him. It would
be dreadful indeed, if he found he had given away such
a treasure !

After fourteen days the little fellows are fed upon the
milk of goats or camels, with as many dates as they
like to eat, and as soon as they are three or four months
old, their education begins. The boys let out some small
animal under the puppy's nose, and while he is still
watching it in a puzzled way, set him on to catch it. It
does not take long to awaken his sporting instincts, and
in a few weeks he is shown higher game. When he is
five or six months, he is considered old enough to learn
how to hunt hares not at all an easy task, and one which
requires a great deal of preparation. The puppy is held
in a leash, and led by some of the men to a place where
hares are known to lie. The hare is roused and made

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe red book of animal stories → online text (page 18 of 22)