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with a long thin red body, and a head like a cat. It was
the fierce and tree-climbing cougar.

The peccary went on with her supper, quite uncon-
scious that she was being watched by her deadliest enemy,
who was calculating his chances of making a successful
spring upon her back, for he knew too well what a
peccary's tusks were like to wish for an encounter with
them. Apparently he decided that the leap was too great
for his powers, so he turned stealthily back and ran up
a tree which cast its shade over the group of peccaries.
Then, gathering himself together, he uttered a battle cry,
and leapt straight on her neck.



126 IN THE AMERICAN DESEET

For some time the fight raged silently on the part of
the cougar, noisily on that of the peccaries, for even
the little ones ran round and tried to think they were
lending a helping hand ; but the peccary had no chance
from the beginning, and before long was lying dead on
her side, with the cougar lapping her blood.

But strange noises were now heard coming nearer
and nearer through the brushwood. The cougar rose
quickly to his feet, and tossing the dead peccary over his
shoulder, he made off in the opposite direction to that
from which the sounds came.

It was too late ; for at the same moment a herd of
twenty or thirty peccaries, who had been summoned by
the cries of the dying one, rushed across the open, and cut
off the retreat of the cougar. In an instant he was
surrounded, and flinging down the body of the peccary,
he sprang upon the nearest living one, felling it with a blow
from one of his paws ; at the same moment he himself
was seized from behind and pulled down.

It did not seem possible that one animal, however
fierce, could keep so many foes at bay ; but two or three
times he shook them off and sprang into the air, only to
be caught and dragged back by some watchful peccary. At
last, he gathered up all his strength, and with a desperate
leap cleared the circle, and made straight for the tree
where the two men were sitting, and before they could
even cock their rifles, he was crouching on a branch above
them, and glaring at them with his uerce eyes.

If ever anybody might be said to be ' between the devil
and the deep sea,' it was Eolfe and Frank at this moment;
for if the cougar was above them, below were the pec-
caries puffing and snorting, and tearing at the bark of
the tree.

However, in a few seconds Eolfe collected his senses,
and came to the conclusion that tha enemy above was
more to be dreaded than the enemy below. For peccaries
cannot climb trees, but cougars can and do quite easily !



127

In fact, had it not been for the presence of the peccaries,
he would never have waited so long.

They had only one gun between them, and even
Frank's bow and arrows were not to be counted on, as he
had carelessly left them lying at the foot of the tree, and
the peccaries had long since made them into chips.
Eolfe therefore told the boy to change places, and get
behind him, so that the first brunt of the cougar's attack
might fall upon himself. This was done quietly, but with
some difficulty, for it is not very easy to pass another
person on the branch of a tree.

When they were settled in their places, Eolfe fired at
the cougar's head, for the rest of the body was covered by
the thick moss. For a moment the smoke prevented his
seeing if the shot had taken effect, and he felt as if every
instant he might feel the creature's claws in his throat.
While it was still too thick for him to make out anything,
he heard something falling heavily through the leaves ;
then a thud and a scream and a rush, and in a minute or
two the peccaries trotted away. 1

1 These anecdotes are not to be taken as historically true.



128



THE STORY OF JACKO II.

THE winter of 183 was unusually severe in Paris, in
spite of all the predictions to the contrary of Matthew
Lansberg, the weather prophet.

Counting on the mild season he foretold, many people
laid in but a moderate supply of fuel, and amongst them
was the artist Tony Johannot. Whether this was the
result of faith in the prophet, or of some other reason
into which it might be indiscreet to inquire, the fact was
that towards the middle of January this distinguished
painter, on going to fetch a log from his wood cupboard,
discovered that if he continued to keep up fires in both
studio and bedroom his store would barely hold out
another fortnight.

Now there had been skating on the canal for a week
past, the river itself was frozen, and Monsieur Arago
announced from the Observatory that the frost would
certainly increase. And the past being a guarantee for
the future, the public began to think that M. Arago was
probably right, and that for once Matthew Lansberg was
mistaken.

Tony returned from his wood cupboard much troubled
by the result of his calculations. It seemed a choice of
freezing by day or freezing by night ! However, on
thinking the matter well over as he worked away at his
big picture of the hanging of Admiral Coligny at Mont-
faucon, it struck him that the simplest plan would be to
move his bed into the studio.



THE STORY OF JACKO II. 129

As for his monkey, Jacko II., 1 a bear's skin folded in
four would do famously for him.

The move was effected that same evening, and Tony
fell asleep in a pleasantly warm atmosphere, delighted
with his happy idea.

On waking next morning he felt puzzled as to where
he was for a few moments, but soon recognising the
studio, his eyes turned by instinct towards his easel.

Jacko II. was seated on the back of a chair, just at
the height and within reach of the picture. For a moment
Tony imagined that the intelligent creature, who had
lived so long amongst pictures, had at length become a
connoisseur, and that, as he seemed to inspect the canvas
very closely, he was lost in admiration of the beauty of
its finish and details. But he soon found out his mistake.
Jacko adored white lead, and as the picture of Coligny
was nearly finished, and Tony had put in all his high
lights with this pigment, Jacko was busy passing his
tongue over every spot where he could find it.

Tony sprang from his bed, and Jacko from his chair,
but it was too late. Every part of the canvas on which
there had been the smallest touch of white lead was
licked bare, and the Admiral himself had been, one might
almost say, swallowed whole !

Tony began by flying into a great rage with Jacko,
but, on second thoughts, reflecting that it was very much
his own fault for not tying the monkey up, he went in
search of a chain and a staple.

He fixed the staple firmly into the wall, riveted one
end of the chain to it, and having thus prepared for
the coining night, he fell to work on his Coligny, and
succeeded in pretty well re-hanging him by five o'clock.

Then, feeling he had done a good day's work, he
went out for a walk, dined at a restaurant, went to see a
play, and got home soon after eleven.

1 To distinguish him from Jacko I., Decamps' monkey.
R K



130 THE STOEY OF JACKO IL

On entering the studio Tony was pleased to find all
in good order and Jacko peacefully asleep on his cushions.
He went to bed and was soon fast asleep too.

Not long after midnight he was roused by such a
rattling of old irons that anyone might have thought that
all the ghosts in Mrs. Badcliffe's novels were dragging
their chains about the room. Tony did not much believe
in ghosts, but fearing some one might be breaking in to
steal his wood he stretched out his hand towards an
antique halberd w T hich hung on the wall. But in an
instant or two he discovered the cause of all this noise,
and shouted to Jacko to lie down and be quiet.

Jacko obeyed, and Tony made all haste to fall asleep
again. At the end of half an hour he was once more
aroused by smothered groans and cries. As the house
stood in an out-of-the-way part of the town Tony thought
some one was being murdered under his very windows.
He jumped out of bed, seized a pair of pistols, and ran to
open the window. The night was still, the street quiet, not
a sound disturbed the peace of the neighbourhood ; so he
closed the window and realised that the groans came from
inside the room. Now, as he and Jacko were its only
occupants, and as he certainly had not uttered a sound
himself, he went straight to Jacko, who, not knowing what
to do, had amused himself running round and round the
leg of the table till his chain shortened, and as he continued
turning round he found himself suddenly pulled up short
by the collar. It never occurred to him to run round the
other way, so he only choked more and more with each
attempt to free himself. Hence the groans which had
disturbed his master.

Tony promptly unwound the chain from the leg of
the table, and Jacko, happy to be able to breathe once
more, retired humbly and quietly to bed. Tony also
lay down hoping for a good sleep at last ; but he reckoned
without Jacko, who had been disturbed in his regular
habits. He had slept his usual eight hours early in the



THE STOEY OF JACKO II. 131

evening and was now quite wide awake. The result was
that, at the end of twenty minutes, Tony bounded out of
bed once more ; but this time it was neither halberd nor
pistol which he took in hand, but a whip.

Jacko saw him coming, and tried to hide in a corner,
but it was too late, and Tony administered a well-deserved
castigation. This effectually quieted the culprit for the
rest of the night ; but now Tony found it impossible to go
to sleep again, so he got up, lit his lamp, and as he could
not paint by its light, sat down to work at one of the
wood engravings which made him the king of illustrators
of his day.

He felt much puzzled all the morning as to the best
way of combining peace at night with economy in fuel,
and he was still turning the matter over in his mind when
a pretty cat called ' Michette ' walked into the studio.

Jacko was very fond of Michette because she did what-
ever he wished, and Michette on her side was devoted to
Jacko. Tony, remembering their mutual attachment,
determined to make the most of it. This cat, with her
thick winter coat of fur, would be as good as any stove.

So he picked her up, and putting her into Jacko's
hutch, pushed him in after her, shut down the grating, and
went back to the studio to watch through a little hole how
things went on.

At first the prisoners tried hard, each after its own
fashion, to get out. Jacko leapt against each of the three
walls, and then fell to shaking the bars of the grating,
regardless of the fact that his efforts were quite in
vain.

As for Michette, she lay where she had been placed,
and looked all round without moving more than her head ;
then going to the bars she rubbed first one side and then
the other against them, rounding her back and arching
her tail, and mewing loudly. Then she tried to push her
head between the bars, but, finding all of no avail, she
made herself a nest in one corner of the hutch, and curled

K2



132 THE STORY OF JACKO II.

herself snugly up, looking like an ermine muff seen from
one end.

Jacko, on the other hand, kept on jumping and
scolding away for another quarter of an hour, then finding
all his efforts to be useless he retired to a corner opposite
Michette's. Being well warmed by all the exercise he had
taken, he stayed quiet for a time, but he soon began to
feel the cold and to shiver all over. It was then that his
eyes fell once more on his friend, so comfortably rolled
up in all her warm fur, and his selfish instinct at once
prompted the use he could make of her. Quietly he drew
near Michette, lay down near her, slipped one arm under
her, and passed the other through the opening made by
the natural muff which she formed. He then twisted his
tail round his neighbour's, and she obligingly drew them
both up between her legs, when he seemed quite re-
assured as to his future.

Tony, satisfied with what he had seen through the
hole, sent for his housekeeper and desired her to prepare
food for Michette every day, besides the carrots, nuts, and
potatoes always served up to Jacko.

The housekeeper duly obeyed orders, and all would
have gone well with Michette and Jacko had it not been
for the monkey's greediness. From the very first day he
noticed that a new dish was served with his two regular
meals, one at nine in the morning and the other at five in
the afternoon. As for Michette, she at once recognised
her accustomed milk pudding in the morning, and meat
patty in the evening, and she proceeded to eat each in
turn with that dainty deliberation common to all well-bred
cats. At first Jacko left her alone ; but one morning, when
Michette had left a little of her pudding on the plate, he
came up behind her, tasted it, and found it so nice that he
quickly cleared the dish. At dinner-time he discovered
that the mess of meat was even more palatable, and
when he rolled himself comfortably round Michette for
the night, he spent some time wondering why he, the son



THE STORY OF JACKO II. 133

of the house, should only have nuts, carrots, and other raw
vegetables, which set his teeth on edge, provided for him,
whilst this comparative stranger was offered such tempting
delicacies. He came to the conclusion that his master
was most unjust, and that he must do his best to restore
things to the proper order by eating the pies himself and
leaving the nuts, &c. to Michette.

So, next morning, when the two breakfasts were
brought, as Michette, purring cheerfully, approached her
saucer, Jacko picked her up under one arm, where he
held her firmly, with her head turned away from the food
as long as there was any left on the dish ; then,
having had an excellent meal, he left Michette at liberty
to breakfast in her turn on the vegetables.

Michette turned over and smelt them each in turn,
but, displeased with the result of her inspection, she came
back mewing sadly, and lay down by the greedy monkey.

At dinner the same manoeuvre took place, but this
time Jacko was still more pleased with his idea, for the
meat pie struck him as even better than the milk pudding.
Thanks to these nourishing meals, and the warmth of
Michette's fur, he spent an excellent night, snoring away
lustily, and quite regardless of poor Michette's complaints.

Things went on like this for three days, to the great
joy of Jacko and the equally great distress of Michette,
who, by the fourth day, was so weak that she lay still in
her corner without moving. Jacko made an excellent
meal, and felt much ill-used when he returned to roll
himself round Michette to find his warm muff so much
cooler than usual.

The night was colder than ever, and next morning
Jacko's tail was frozen hard, and Michette lay at the
point of death.

Luckily, on that day, Tony, who had felt anxious on
account of the extreme cold, w T ent to inspect his two
prisoners as soon as he woke. He was only just in time,
for both seemed almost equally petrified, so he took Jacko



134 THE STORY OF JACKO II.

into the .studio, and handed Michette over to the cook, who
thought for some time that she was quite dead ; but the
warmth of the kitchen and judicious feeding gradually
restored her, and in a day or two she was herself once
more ; but nothing would ever induce her to go near Jacko
again.

Jacko himself was rather stiff, but he soon recovered
his circulation and wonted activity, except in his tail,
which remained frozen, and which, having frozen whilst
curled round Michette's tail, retained a corkscrew form
a shape unknown amongst monkeys, and which had the
funniest appearance you can imagine.

Three days later a thaw set in, and the thaw caused
a strange thing to happen.

One day Jacko was perched on the top of a tall ladder
in the studio, when a lad suddenly came in bringing back
a large lion's skin which Tony had sent to be mounted.
The boy had hung the skin over his back, and it partly
covered his head ; and his appearance, and the smell of
the skin, so terrified Jacko, that he turned quite faint and
fell down from the ladder.

He was promptly picked up and soon restored to his
senses, but in the sudden fall his frozen tail had snapped
right off, and Jacko had to pass the remainder of his life
a tail-less monkey.



135



'PRINCESS'

SHE was not actually a king's daughter, as far as I know,
but she was so evidently high bred, and had such a
superior, aristocratic air about her, that the name seemed
perfectly appropriate.

There could be no question as to her high descent and
pure blood. It was apparent in every one of her graceful
movements, in the exquisite softness and delicacy of her
grey coat, the thickness and fluffiness of the ruff she
wore round her neck, and the size and bushiness of her
superb tail. In a word Princess was a pure-bred Persian
cat, and her happy owners, Mrs. and Miss H., took great
pride in her possession, and much pleasure in her society.

Indeed, they declared that her understanding was
quite beyond that of ordinary animals, and that she quite
understood much of their conversation.

One day Miss H. went out to make some calls, and
on her return sat down to tell her mother all about her
visits. Princess jumped into her lap, and curled herself
up cosily, as if to listen to her adventures.

Presently, Miss H. said : ' You have no idea, mother,
what a magnificent cat Mrs. Taylor has. It is immensely
big, and has one of the most splendid tails I ever saw.'

In a moment, Princess rose, sprang from Miss H.'s
lap, and walked to the door, demanding to be let out. It
was clearly not for her to stay and hear one of her own
mistresses praising the charms of a horrid rival.

Mrs. and Miss H. made acquaintance with a lady
whom we will call Miss Gray, and to Miss Gray



136 ' PRINCESS '

Princess took a curiously strong fancy at first sight.
If Miss Gray happened to bo calling at the house,
and Princess chanced to see her parasol or umbrella in
the hall, she would hurry off with every sign of delight
in search of her dear friend. If several people were in
the room, Miss H. would sometimes say, ' Where is Miss




P1UNCESS AND THE INVALID



Gray, Princess ? ' and the cat would turn her head towards
the lady and go up at once to rub against her.

' Do you love me very much, Princess ? ' asked Miss
Gray, once. Princess replied by looking up affectionately
at her, and uttering a most tender ' miau.'

One sad day, Mrs. H. fell ill, and had to take to her
bed. She grew worse, and her poor daughter was very



' PRINCESS ' 137

unhappy indeed about her. Princess appeared quite to
understand, and to enter into all the trouble and anxiety,
and went about sad and drooping. The doctor was very
anxious that his patient, who was extremely weak, should
take plenty of nourishing food ; but nothing seemed to
tempt her fancy.

One thing after another was tried soup, jelly, game
all of no use. The invalid declared she could touch
none of them, and poor Miss H. felt in despair.

One morning, as she was sitting by her mother's
bedside, and trying to coax her to eat something, the
door, which was slightly ajar, was pushed open, and
Princess ran in quite gaily. She jumped on the bed, and,
with an important air, laid down on her mistress's cover-
let a bird she had caught and brought her.

Both Mrs. and Miss H. declared afterwards that they
were sure Princess thought she had found the very thing
with which to tempt a sick appetite.



138



THE LION AND THE SAINT



IP you should have the opportunity of seeing any large
picture gallery abroad, or our own National Gallery in
London, you will be very likely to come across some pic-
ture by one or other ' old master ' representing an old
man, with a long beard, sometimes reading or writing in
a study, sometimes kneeling in a bare desert-place ; but
wherever he may be, or whatever he may be doing, there
is almost always a lion with him.

The old man with the beard is St. Jerome, who lived
fifteen hundred years ago, and I want now to tell you why
a lion generally appears in any picture of him.

At one time of his life, St. Jerome lived in a monas-
tery he had founded at Bethlehem. One day he and
some of his monks were sitting to enjoy the cool of the
evening at the gate of the monastery when a big lion
suddenly appeared walking up to them. The monks
were horribly frightened, and scampered off as fast as they
could to take refuge indoors ; but St. Jerome had noticed
that as the lion walked he limped as though in pain, and
the Saint, who always tried to help those in trouble, waited
to see what he could do for the poor animal.

The lion came near, and when he was quite close he
held up one paw and looked plaintively at the men.

St. Jerome fearlessly took the paw on his lap, and, on
examining it, found a large thorn, which he pulled out,
binding up the injured limb. The wound was rather a
bad one, but St. Jerome kept the lion with him and nursed
him carefully till he was quite well again.



THE LION AND THE SAINT 141

The lion was so grateful, and became so much attached
to his kind doctor, that he would not leave him, but stayed
on in the monastery.

Now, in this house no one, from the highest to the
lowest, man or beast, was allowed to lead an idle life. It
was not easy to find employment for a lion ; but at length
a daily task was found for him.

This was to guard and watch over the ass, who each
day carried in the firewood which was cut and gathered
in the forest. The lion and ass became great friends, and
no doubt the ass felt much comfort in having such a
powerful protector.

But it happened, on one very hot summer's day,
that whilst the ass was at pasture the lion fell asleep.
Some merchants were passing that way and seeing the
ass grazing quietly, and apparently alone, they stole her
and carried her off with them.

In due time the lion awoke ; but when he looked for
the ass she was not to be seen. In vain he roamed
about, seeking everywhere ; he could not find her ; and
when evening came he had to return to the monastery
alone, and with his head and tail drooping to show how
ashamed he felt.

As he could not speak to explain matters, St.
Jerome feared that he had not been able to resist the
temptation to eat raw flesh once more, and that he had
devoured the poor ass. He therefore ordered that the
lion should perform the daily task of his missing com-
panion, and carry the firewood instead of her.

The lion meekly submitted, and allowed the load of
faggots to be tied on his back, and carried them safely
home. As soon as he was unloaded he would run
about for some time, still hoping to find the ass.

One day, as he was hunting about in this fashion,
he saw a caravan coming along with a string of camels.
The camels, as was usual in some places, were led by
an ass, and to the lion's joy he recognised his lost friend.



142



THE LION AND THE SAINT



He instantly fell on the caravan, and, without hurt-
ing any of the camels, succeeded in frightening them all so
completely that he had no difficulty in driving them into
the monastery where St. Jerome met them.




THE LION liESCCES THE ASS FROM THE CARAVAN

The merchants, much alarmed, confessed their theft,
and St. Jerome forgave them, and was very kind to
them ; but the ass, of course, returned to her former
owners. And the lion was much petted and praised for
his goodness and cleverness, and lived with St. Jerome
till the end of his life.



143



THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ' TOM,'
A BEAR IN PARIS 1

PART I

DECAMPS and his brother Alexandra were entertaining a
number of their artistic and literary friends one evening
in the well-known studio, on the fifth floor of No. 109
Eue du Faubourg St. -Denis, in Paris. Thierry had just
finished reading a scientific paper on the peculiarities of
frogs, of the same species as Mademoiselle Camargo,
when the door opened, and the master of a neighbouring
cafe entered, bearing a large tray covered with cups,
saucers, teapot, &c., and followed by two of his waiters
who carried a huge hamper, in which were a loaf, some
buns, a salad, and, an enormous number of little cakes
of every possible size, shape, and flavour.

The loaf was for Tom, the bear ; the buns for Jacko,
the monkey ; the salad for the tortoise, Gazelle, and the
tea and cakes for the guests.

The beasts were very properly served first, and the
guests were then told to help themselves.

A few moments of confusion followed, during which
each made himself comfortable after his own fashion.
Tom carried off his loaf to his hutch, growling as he
went ; Jacko fled behind some busts to munch his buns,


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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe red book of animal stories → online text (page 8 of 22)