Andrew Lang.

The red book of animal stories online

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to run away, and the greyhound is taught to follow it
until, after repeated trials, he learns how to hunt it down.
When he has thoroughly mastered this lesson, he is pro-
moted to the chase of gazelles, which needs a great deal


of caution, especially if the mothers happen to be near
by. But in a very little while the pups learn this too,
and then the greatest pleasure they have is a hunting

By this time the pup is a year old, and has nearly
reached his full strength and spirits. In three or four
months more his heart dances with joy at the sight
of a herd of antelopes the more the merrier, he thinks,
as he watches thirty or forty of these big beasts feeding
together in the plains. Trembling with excitement he
flies to his master, and looks up pleadingly in his face,
for he has been too well taught to go off without leave.
' Son of a Jew,' says the master, who himself has dis-
covered the antelopes, and knows quite well what this
means ' Son of a Jew, do not lie to me, and tell me you
have seen nothing. I know you, friend, and I myself will
go with you.' So he takes his skin of water, and sprinkles
it over the little greyhound's body, that he may become
stronger and better able to resist his enemies. The dog
is too impatient to be gone to submit patiently to these
ceremonies, and when at last he is set free, gives one
rapturous bark, and makes, like an arrow from a bow,
for the largest and finest beast in the herd. And when
he has killed him, he always receives the flesh off the ribs
for his share.

Greyhounds are prudent creatures, but also very
vain. If a greyhound fails to bring down an antelope
which has been pointed out to him by his master, and
another dog succeeds in doing it, he feels wounded in his
most tender place. This vanity comes mostly from his
education. A pure bred greyhound would never think of
eating from a dirty plate or drinking milk which any
hand had touched. He learns very early to consider
that he has a right to the best of everything. Other dogs
may almost starve, and accept thankfully the food a
greyhound w r ould not look at, but he will lie by his
master's side, and sometimes in his bed. He wears a


coat, so that no cold wind may touch him, and if he is
cross, everyone declares it is a sign of high birth. No
finery is thought too good for him ; necklaces and shells
are hung round his neck, and he wears a talisman to pre-
serve him from the evil eye. His diet is a matter of
careful consideration, and no man would dream of giving
his greyhound anything but the dainty bits he has kept
for himself.

No well brought up greyhound would ever think of
hunting with any man but his master, and indeed his
affection and his clean habits amply repay all the trouble
spent upon him. If his master is absent for a few days,
the greyhound nearly goes out of his mind with joy at
his return, lie jumps right on to the saddle itself, and
almost smothers the man with his caresses. And the
Arab understands all he is feeling, and says to him :
' Friend, forgive me, I had to leave you. But now, come
with MH>. I am weary of dates, and need meat, and I
know you will be so good as to get me some.' And the
dog takes him at his word, for he knows he is worthy of
his trust.

\VluMi the greyhound dies, the whole tent mourns for
him. Tin 1 women and children weep, as they would for
one of themselves, and indeed he is often a greater loss than
a member of the family might be. A ' slugui ' who hunts
for the poor Bedouins is never sold, and only very rarely
given away in return for some great benefit. The value
of such a ' slugui,' who is a successful hunter of gazelles,
exceeds that of a camel ; the worth of a greyhound who
can capture antelopes is equal to that of the finest horse.



PINCHER was a native of Edinburgh, and was born about
1880. It is unfortunate that Dr. John Brown did not
write the biography of Pincher, whom he probably knew,
while I myself was unacquainted with the hero. This
life is based on the recollections of the bereaved survivors
of an illustrious hound.

On the mother's side, Pincher came of an old family
of fox-terriers. His paternal descent is wrapped in
mystery, but those who know the circumstances best
believe that Pincher had bull-terrier blood in his
veins. His ears were large and loosely Happing; his
tail was short, thick, and columnar that heroic tail
which never but once was seen between his legs.

In very early youth Pincher was bestowed on a lady
of mature age and maiden dignity, who dwelt in London.
She became much attached to Pincher, but soon restored
him to Edinburgh. On consulting her friends, and her
own sense of propriety, she did not think it becoming that
she should constantly appear in police courts. Yet this
was her portion in life, owing to the military instincts of
Pincher, still uncontrolled by knowledge of the world.
Pincher drank delight of battle with his peers, and Wallace
rejoiced not more in the blood of Englishmen than Pincher
in the gore of English dogs. Through wide Bayswater
he kept avenging Flodden, and was in police courts often.
He was therefore restored to the bosom of his family, who
resided in Douglas Crescent.

Eeflection had taught Pincher that a refined Crescent


was no fit arena for military prowess. Besides, he had
reduced the dogs of the district to order, and his appear-
ance, like that of the British Flag on the high seas of old,
was saluted by tails down. Pincher looked for new
worlds to conquer. He took his stand, like some adven-
turous knight of old, in a pass perilous. He kept that
thronged thoroughfare, the Dairy Eoad, against all comers.
No collie, or bull-terrier, or Dandie could pass, but must
cross teeth with Pincher. In the Dairy Road he compro-
mised nobody ; unrecognised, like the Black Knight at
Ashby-de-la-Zouch in ' Ivanhoe,' he reaped his laurels.

Battle was not Pincher 's only joy. He loved sacred
music. Certain anthems and hymn tunes, when per-
formed on the piano, moved Pincher to an ecstasy which
he expressed in rhythmic howls. To secular music he
was deaf, or dumb ; he did not wed his voice to profane
melody. Hence he for long remained apparently
indifferent to barrel-organs. But, at last, Pincher was
missing from his wonted stand. He kept the pass of the
Dairy Eoad no longer. He had found a wandering
musician, proprietor of a barrel-organ, who had the ' Old
Hundredth ' in his machine. Him Pincher constantly
attended in George Square, in Princes Street, in The
Pleasance, everywhere. Pincher's family would meet an
enthusiastic crowd, who listened with rapt attention while
Pincher accompanied the ' Old Hundredth ' with vocal
and heartfelt psalmody. The musician profited not a
little by Pincher's performances.

Pincher could not abide his neighbour, Professor
Blackie. The extraordinary liveliness of that scholar
found vent in a kind of dance, a sort of waltz in which he
indulged as he paced the street. Observing this, and not
liking it, Pincher would rush from his lair in the area,
circling round the Professor, and leaping up at the tails of
his plaid. The learned Professor was obliged to walk like
other men in Pincher's neighbourhood.

The Highlands were the home of Pincher's most


celebrated feats, and the Pass of Glencoe witnessed what
he doubtless deemed the most tragic event in his crowded
life. Here he, who never feared the face of living dog,
fled from the dead, as he (erroneously) believed. He was
not inaccessible to the terror of superstition, nor could he
encounter the foe whom he had already seen stretched life-
less at his feet. But this adventure needs some preface
and explanation.

The Coe, after threading the Pass where the massacre
took place under tremendous and beetling crags, reaches
the sea at Invercoe, above which it is spanned by a bridge.
At Invercoe dwelt a family akin to that owned by Pincher.
They possessed a Scotch terrier named Jack, between
whom and Pincher reigned an inveterate feud. To keep
these enemies apart was the great object of all friends of
peace. Pincher's family lived on the left, Jack's on the
right of the river. One day both families were taking tea
in the open air, the table being spread just under the
window of a cottage in the village. Pincher was left in
the cottage, Jack on the other side of the stream. As the
guests partook of the innocent feast, a kind of hairy
hurricane sped from above, the urn and teapot were over-
set, a heavy body landed on the table, and, when the
affrighted tea-party recovered the use of their senses,
Pincher and Jack were found engaged in a death struggle.
Jack, unobserved, had come up the road, Pincher, behold-
ing or scenting him from an upper window, had leaped to
the fray !

What could be done was done. Both hounds were
lifted from the earth by their tails. Pepper was applied
to their nostrils, water was poured over them. But
Pincher did not leave his hold till Jack lay motionless at
his feet. Then Pincher let himself be dragged off, while
medical attendance was called in for Jack, the doctor's
house being hard by. The skill and perseverance of that
excellent physician were at last rewarded. Jack breathed,
he stirred, and, unknown to the relentless Pincher, was


conveyed by a band of sympathisers to his own home,
very unwell.

After this event Jack and Pincher were carefully kept
apart, and Pincher firmly believed that -his enemy was
dead. But, in the following year, Pincher crossed the
bridge, and, in the view of several credible witnesses, he
encountered Jack. Instantly that short tail of Pincher's
drooped, he trembled, turned, and fled. He had slain
Jack, that he knew, and yet here was Jack again, re-arisen
from his grave. Now, and never before, men saw Pincher
fly from a foe. The inference is obvious : he regarded
Jack as a visitor from the world of spirits. Brutus was
not afraid of the ghost of Caesar, but in this one respect
Pincher fell short of the Roman courage.

Pincher, though alarmed, was unconverted. Though
gentle to small dogs, and the attached friend of little
children, Pincher reigned the tyrant of the glen. When
he marched down the middle of the village street, dogs
and cats fled to back gardens and under beds in cottages.
At the age of fourteen Pincher died. It was his habit to
jump at the noses of trotting horses ; enfeebled by years
he ' missed his tip,' was kicked by the justly irritated
horse, and never recovered from the injury. Pincher
was brave to a fault, tender, faithful, and the patron of at
least one of the fine arts : sacred music. When he first
landed in the Highlands, the barque which bore him glided
through clear water over a green field, submerged at high
tide. In the mirror-like expanse Pincher beheld his own
reflected shape, conceived it to be a hostile hound, and
leaped to battle. His perplexed expression when he rose
to the surface is said to have been extremely comic. His
old age was gloomy, as he no longer dared to keep the
crown of the causeway, dreading the reprisals of the
young. The time came to this conqueror when, like Eob
Boy in his last days, he had enough of fighting. Such,
as drawn by a feeble but impartial hand, were the Life
and Death of Pincher.



IT was shortly before Christmas, when the days are at
their shortest, when the sun sets before four o'clock and
by five darkness has spread over the face of the land-
One such evening there sat smoking and chatting in their
comfortable sitting-room the inspectors and the book-
keeper of a great estate in Poland, which belonged to a
nobleman, but was under the management of a German

' Children,' said the Inspector Wultkiewicz, ' in my
rounds to-day I went past the pea-stacks of the Jaguicksy
farm. You cannot imagine what havoc the wild boars have
wrought there ; if it is allowed to go on, by the spring the
peas will be completely pulled up.'

At that moment the maidservant entered, and inter-
rupted the conversation by announcing that supper was
ready, and all the young men betook themselves to the
steward's house across the way, to eat their evening
meal in company with the steward's family. At table,
the conversation again turning on the wild boars and the
damage they had done, the book-keeper declared that in
order to drive these pests away for ever it sufficed to
shoot one.

Now this book-keeper, who, like the steward, was a
German, was very clever at his own business, but, like
many other people, believed that he could do everything.
For instance, he considered himself an ideal of manly
beauty, irresistible to ladies and unsurpassed in all
knightly arts. In reality he was narrow-shouldered,



hollow-chested, had long spindle shanks and a crooked
back, great red hands, and huge feet ; he stammered in
his speech, and his behaviour towards ladies was like
that of a young sporting dog who is being fondled.

' But Herr Vomhammel,' objected the steward, ' you
could easily shoot one of them, but you would find it
rather dangerous to come to such close quarters.'

' Ah, ha,' laughed Fraulein Anna, the steward's pretty
eighteen-year-old daughter, whose chief delight it was to
tease poor Vomhammel, ' Herr Vomhammel would take
to his heels as soon as ever he heard a pig grunt.'

' Upon m-m-my honour, F-f-fraulein,' he stammered
in self-defence, ' I would let f-f-fire with my good revolver,
straight on a wild b-b-boar if only it stood still.'

Everyone laughed, but the book-keeper did not seem
the least aware of it, and looked round triumphantly.

' An idea occurs to me, however,' said the steward ;
' by ten o'clock to-night the moon will be up, so let us
invite all the peasants, and especially Ivan Meschkoff,
the choir leader, who is experienced in boar hunts, to join
us in a raid against them to-night. As you all know, the
peasants are not allowed to have firearms, but make use,
after the old Kuthenian fashion, of their pikes and
pitchforks, once their dogs have brought the creatures to
bay. If we were to drive in light sledges through the
forest near to the pea-stacks, we might surprise the pigs,
and by cutting off their retreat, the dogs that we should
take in the sledges with us could not fail to seize some
of the herd.'

This proposition met with general assent, the ladies
even wishing to join in this sledge expedition, which
seemed likely to be free from all danger. The peasants
were soon ready, and by nine o'clock assembled, to the
number of thirty, under the leadership of the gigantic
bearded Ivan Meschkoff, each accompanied by one, or
perhaps two, middle-sized but powerful cross-bred dogs,
held in the leash. From the village they went to the


manor-house, whence all set off together in eleven sledges,
as many hunters as spectators. The steward took both
his wife and daughter Anna with him on one of the small
light sledges, as a large iron-bound one would have dragged
too heavily through the freshly fallen snow and have been
too wide for the narrow forest tracts through which
they had to drive. The steward's double-barrelled gun
was the only firearm of any consequence taken on the
expedition, and was entrusted to the Inspector Wult-
kiewicz, as he was an excellent shot. Our friend Vom-
hammel nad naturally not forgotten to take his cherished
revolver, with what results remains to be seen.

As they entered the forest, Ivan, who sat by Wult-
kiewicz on the foremost sledge, desired that all conversa-
tion should cease, and soon no sound was heard through
t the line of sledges but the rattle of the shafts or the
occasional neigh of a horse.

Here and there, on either side of the path, where the
undergrowth had been slightly cleared, were seen at a
little distance numerous shining sparks which might have
been taken for glow-worms, excepting for the fact that
they moved, or rather seemed to glide along the ground
in the same direction as the sledges and at the same rate
of speed.

' Are there glow-worms in winter ? ' asked Wultkiewicz
softly of his neighbour.

' No, they are wolves' eyes shining through the gloom,'
answered Ivan in a whisper, ' they will follow us to the
end of the wood, but there is nothing to fear ; they just
run with us for their amusement and to see if anything
falls off the sledges. They are only dangerous during
severe and prolonged cold, for the wolf is cowardly, and
seldom attacks but in extreme need, and that never occurs
here, with all the roe-deer and wild pig there are in these
woods. The peasants and the horses are well accustomed
to the sight of the wolves by night, and by day they never



At a distance of about one thousand feet, the pea-
stacks stood out distinctly against the wintry sky, and
all eyes were immediately turned in that direction.
In his capacity of leader of the hunt, Ivan gave the
order to drive slowly to wards -the stacks in a large half
circle with a gap between each sledge, and to let loose the
dogs as soon as the boars should begin to run.

When they had come to within three hundred feet of
the stacks, they distinctly saw a large herd of black pigs
busily engaged in their work of destruction. As soon as
the creatures became aware of the approaching enemy
they drew closer together. At a signal from Ivan the greater
part of the dogs were let loose, and they rushed barking
loudly on the common foe. The whole herd gathered
close together in a tangled mass, and took flight across
the fields in the opposite direction. Six sledges, manned
by pike-armed peasants, pursued them quickly, while the
remaining five sledges with the rest of the dogs, drove
slowly after them so as to be able to cut off the retreat of
the pigs into the forest.

When these last sledges had come to within a
hundred and t\venty feet of the stacks, the occupants saw
a huge dark mass moving among the rooted up straw.

' That must be an old boar, what they call a " hermit," '
said Ivan, ' a dangerous creature that fears neither dogs
nor men.'

And, as if to prove the truth of his words, the monster
then slowly turned his broadside to the sledge, without
interrupting his eating and crunching.

' If only I had my good rifle here ! ' exclaimed Wult-
kiewicz excitedly, ' but with shot one cannot pierce a
hide like that.'

Vomhammel, who sat on the same sledge beside the
driver, no sooner heard these words than he sprang up,
threw his long legs over the splash-board, jumped out,
and revolver in hand, advanced on the boar with huge


' For Heaven's sake ! back ! what are you doing ? ' ex-
claimed Ivan; but Vomhammel did not heed him, and
rushed on,

Wultkiewicz, who did not wish to leave his colleague
in the lurch, hastily thrust a couple of cartridges into the


barrel of his gun, and hurried to the spot. All these events
had taken place with the speed of lightning, and in the
general surprise every one stood helpless, Ivan alone not
losing his presence of mind.


' Wasil ! ' he cried to the driver of the sledge, ' drive
quickly forward ! and let loose the dogs.' And imme-
diately eight large dogs sprang to earth.

Meanwhile Vomhammel had approached to within
sixty feet of the boar, then he stopped, took aim, and fired
three times in rapid succession, without any shot, how-
ever, taking effect. Slowly the monster raised his great
broad head at the noise, then at sight of the disturber of
his peace he gave vent to a series of grunts, and struck
his mighty tusks on the ground. Vomhammel's courage
instantly vanished, and, letting fall his revolver, he quickly
ran back. ' Here ! here ! ' called Ivan, and with such strides
as never were seen, Vomhammel made for the rapidly
approaching sledge. But the boar was as quick as he,
and apparently meant to avenge himself for the insult
done him. Lowering his head, he rushed after the flying
enemy, ploughing up the snow with his tusks. Soon he
was close upon him, and Vomhammel seemed lost, as there
was still a considerable distance to cover before he could
reach the sledge. Just then a shot rang out, and the boar
fell forward. Wultkiewicz had fired a shot at him
from a distance of about thirty feet. Immediately the
boar was on its feet again, though limping on a fore
leg; the short delay, however, had been enough to save
poor Vomhammel. As the boar, blinded with rage, hurled
itself against the sledge its victim's long body was already
safe, only his legs hanging down on the wrong side.
A blow from the boar's tusks hitting one of those long
lank limbs, ripped up the boot from top to bottom.
Ivan, with his powerful left hand, firmly grasped Vom-
hammel's body, and thus rescued him from further attack,
while with the right he dealt the boar a spear thrust.
The dogs also flung themselves on the monster, which
was attacking the sledge so furiously that it certainly
would have been overturned but for good driving. When
at last the remainder of the party appeared on the field
of battle, the boar, after a hot struggle, had been com-


pletely vanquished, some pikes had been bent and broken
in the combat, and one dog had paid for his valour with
his life. The other hunters had a large sow to show
as their spoil, which they had succeeded in slaying
without any mishap to themselves.

When all had reassembled on the scene Fraulein
Anna's eye fell upon Vomhammel, who lay all huddled up
on the sledge. When she saw the gaping rent in the
boot, she exclaimed : ' See, Herr Vomhammel is terribly
wounded ! '

Everybody ran to look, but found after all that the
boar's tusks had torn nothing but cloth and shoe-leather.

' God be thanked,' exclaimed Anna, ' that it is no
worse ! '

Vomhammel had the satisfaction of being for some
time after that the hero of the day, and his beloved Anna
has never again twitted him with lack of courage.



IT is now about eighty years since Sir Walter Scott told
some curious stories, proving how animals could be
deliberately trained by their owners to break the law, or
to help them to break it, all the while thinking they were
acting from the best motives, and only doing their duty.
It is, if we come to reflect, very difficult for a dog to learn
that he is worthy of praise if he defends his master's
property, while he is doing a very wicked thing if, at that
very master's bidding, he tries to get possession of some-
body else's. His only idea of the whole duty of dog is
to do what he is told. And a very good idea it is, too,
only it sometimes leads to trouble. Why, only a few
days ago a large boar-hound was trained by some Paris
thieves to fly at a man's throat at a given signal. The
man was nearly killed, but not before the dog and his
owners had been caught by the police. The thieves were
taken to prison, and the dog to the lethal chamber.

This little incident shows that the nature of clogs, as
well as that of men, is pretty much the same as when
Sir Walter was writing about them. Somewhere about
the year 1817 a constable made a complaint to the police
magistrate of Shadwell, a large district in the East of
London, that a horse in the neighbourhood had become
a confirmed hay-stealer. Every night, declared the
constable, that horse would walk boldly up to the stands
of hackney coaches in the parish of St. George's-in-the-
East, and eat as much hay as he wanted, after which he


instantly galloped away. More than once a party of men
had set out to catch him, but in the end they had been
obliged to give this up, for if they attempted to interfere
with him when he was eating, he would first turn round
and charge them, and then kick furiously at them ; and if
this did not do, he would end by biting them. So, not
knowing what to do, they had sent the constable to the
magistrate to ask his advice.

It was not of much use when he got it. The magi-
strate thought it was a very shocking state of things, and
directed that the offending horse should be brought into
court to answer these grave charges, if Jie could be caught;
but this was exactly the difficulty, and as there is no
record at the Shadwell Police Court of the case being
tried, it is probable that one of two things happened:

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe red book of animal stories → online text (page 19 of 22)