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Flora Helm Krause.

Manual of moral and humane education, June to September inclusive online

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His purposes and ideas fairly possessed him. Never did
a man consecrate himself more fully to the successful
completion of the work of his life than did Audubon to
the finishing of his "American Ornithology."

The first volume of his bird pictures was completed
this summer, and, in bringing it out, forty thousand
dollars had passed through his hands. It had taken
four years to bring that volume before the world.



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 303

His great work, the "Birds of America," had been
practically completed, incredible difficulties had been
surmounted, and the goal of his long years of striving
had been reached.

About the very great merit of this work, there is but
one opinion among competent judges. It is, indeed, a
monument to the man's indomitable energy and perse-
verance, and it is a monument to the science of ornithol-
ogy. The drawings of the birds are very spirited and
life-like, and their biographies copious, picturesque, and
accurate, and, taken in connection with his many jour-
nals, they afford glimpses of the life of the country dur-
ing the early part of the century, that are of very great
interest and value.

In writing the biography of the birds he wrote his
autobiography as well, he wove his doings and adven-
tures into his natural history observations. This gives
a personal flavor to his pages, and is the main source of
their charm.

Probably most of the seventy-five or eighty copies of
"Birds" which were taken by subscribers in this country
are still extant, held by the great libraries, and learned
institutions. The Lenox Library in New York owns
three sets. The Astor Library owns one set. I have
examined this work there ; there are four volumes in a
set; they are elephant folio size more than three feet
long, and two or more feet wide. They are the heaviest
books I ever handled. It takes two men to carry one
volume to the large racks which hold them for the pur-
pose of examination. The birds, of which there are a
thousand and fifty-five plates, are all life size, even the
great eagles, and appear to be unfaded. This work,
which cost the original subscribers one thousand dollars,
now brings four thousand dollars at private sale.

His LIFE'S ENDING.

Audubon's last years were peaceful and happy, and
were passed at his home on the Hudson, amid his chil-
dren and grandchildren, surrounded by the scenes that
he loved.



304 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

The foregoing are extracts from John James Audu-
bon, by John Burroughs, published by Small, Maynard
& Co., Boston, and are printed by courtesy of the pub-
lishers. The biography makes excellent home-reading
for the pupils.

THE COST OF A FEATHER

EIGHTH GRADE OCTOBER

I have come to plead for the preservation of some-
thing infinitely dear and precious to the world: its ideals
of womanhood ! And truly, friends, they are in imminent
peril. Woman has stood through the centuries as em-
bodied tenderness and sympathy. Her "gentleness has
made her great. " Painting and sculpture represent
her with the deep, maternal breast within which little
children and helplessness everywhere hide their tearful
faces. About her knees humanity clings for refuge from
cruelty and wrong. She is Portia, when men's argu-
ments fail in courts of justice ; and the Bible hath it that
only God is "tenderer than a mother/'

This is the world's reverent ideal of woman: the
pillow upon which its trust has slept undisturbed until
the present.

And now, a cry is heard in our land, in all lands, that
this ideal, the world 's cherished possession, is being slain
by woman's own hand. A whisper has arisen to a menace
I do not exaggerate for do we not know that in this
day, when the nations of the earth are meeting together
in an effort to hasten the consummation of peace upon
earth; in this which has been called the "Woman's Cen-
tury," we are appealing to the courts of justice to pro-
tect one of the most innocent, beautiful and useful of
creations, against the cruel vanity of woman? Unless
all good women use their influence against this fashion,
the danger is imminent that ours will be a birdless world !
From seashore and forest and field the wail is swelling,
that where once were thousands upon thousands of useful,
ornamental birds, some localities have been entirely de-
populated. Where once the islands about Florida were
white with the beautiful egrets, one is now rarely seen.



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 305

A picture on exhibition in New York, by the great paint-
er, George Inness, represents a forest interior in Florida
with a solitary egret; a prophecy of no light import.

The press, always the champion of the helpless and op-
pressed, pronounces the wearing of birds "degrading"
and declares that women can no longer plead ignorance,
since this alarm has sounded through the civilized world.
The pulpit expresses amaze that woman, supposed to be
more tender than man, will allow cruelties simply fiend-
ish to be carried on at the beck of fashion. I quote an
eminent clergyman, who declares that "if they under-
stand what misery in the bird realm this costs, the world
must lose its respect for them." These are bold words,
dear friends. Do you wonder I say the world 's ideals
of woman are in grave peril?

I have referred to the London clergyman, he thus ad-
dressed his ^congregation, ' ' Some of you, my friends,
followers of the gentle Christ, come to worship wearing
aigrette plumes. Do you realize that this aigrette is
called the 'maternity plume' because it only grows on
the bird at the time of nesting, and to obtain one such
feather involves not only the cruel death of the beauti-
ful mother heron, but the whole nestful of newly born
birds ? What a price to pay ! What a travesty upon re-
ligion to stand and sing ' 0, all ye fowls of the air bless
ye the Lord, praise Him and magnify Him forever!' '

And, friends, what of our husbands and sons, and their
ideals of womanhood, and the risk we run of falling from
our high place in their reverence ? They understand now
the brutal methods by which the aigrette is obtained, yet
we wives and mothers dare to look into their faces with
the satin breast of a tern or sea gull shading our un-
ashamed eyes!

Do you remember how stirred with righteous indigna-
tion the souls of decent people were over the disgraceful
scenes at the Long Island shooting matches and how a
little, sensitive-souled boy who witnessed the revolting
pastime became insane over the memory of the massacre
of the doves-?

Our attitude toward the bird is against our American
traditions, our national spirit, and our boasted ideas of



306 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

liberty. North, South, East, West, our gates swing wide
to whomsoever will enter. Here the stranger is ad-
mitted to full familyship, his rights protected, his chil-
dren educated, and the harvests of our fields are his to
share. Yet against our upright little "Citizen Bird,"
our neighbor and benefactor, an ornament and delight
to our world, we are waging a crusade more unnatural
and unjust than any the world has known since the days
of Herod; and the "gentler sex" is waging it!

In all ages until now the bird has been loved and pro-
tected. The ancients revered them. Fable and song have
immortalized them, little children regard them with
ecstasy, and in all the world I have never heard of a
person who did not love the birds.

And is it not questionable, apart from prejudice or
sentiment, whether dead birds do really adorn ; whether
it is really becoming to any woman "to w^ar, like the
savage, the scalps of the slain"? We are not usually
enamored of the suggestions of death; and this stark
little corpse out of which the beauty has been twisted,
the staring bead eyes, the rumpled plumage, the poor
little beak that will never again part in rapturous song ;
the wonderful wings we have robbed of their matchless
grace of flight are these lovely?

"We that never can make it

Yet dare to unmake it,
Dare take it and break it and throw it away."

It is not our purpose to coldly compute the unspeak-
able economic value of the birds to our orchards and
fields and gardens. It has been truly said, if women are
not moved by the sentiment in this question, no other
appeal would avail. Today, friends, let us exalt, in
their beauty and aesthetic charm, these singing orchids
that flutter among our forest trees! These winged
jewels of sapphire, and ruby, and emerald that gem the
common air! Oh, there is nothing in heaven above, or
earth beneath, or the waters under the earth, half so
beautiful as this rare thing we call a bird, and which
the daughters of Eve are using not to uplift but to
debase !



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 307

Have you never said ' ' thank you ! " to a vesper-sparrow
singing his pensive little evensong on a fence, or to a
hermit thrush in some forest cathedral, when his heaven-
ly note brought your soul to its knees, and the angel in
you leaned out to adore?

And could you wear a bird on your hat after that
service ?

Mrs. May Riley Smith, abridged. Special Leaflet 14.
Published by National Association of Audubon Societies,
New York.

THE TRIPOD FOX.

SIXTH GRADE NOVEMBER.

It was a clear, crisp morning in October, with just
chill enough in the air to set the blood tingling and to
whet the appetite. There had been a hard frost the
night before, and along the little water courses and in
other low places there was a white lacework of frost
suggestive of what the cold would do a few weeks later.

Reynard, the red fox, was following a small stream
up the wind, looking for his breakfast. This was his
favorite way of hunting, for it gave him the advantage
both of seeing and smelling, so if the wind had been
in the opposite direction he would have hunted down
stream instead of up.

Presently he got a good whiff of game scent from up
stream and stealthily advanced upon it. His nostrils
were extended, his hungry, yellow eyes ablaze, and his
whole frame quivering with excitement. As he drew
nearer he crouched low to the ground, going almost
upon his belly. Then the wind freshened and he got a
whiff of bird scent so strong that there was no mistak-
ing it.

A few more crouching, creeping steps brought the
fox out into a small open spot, where the brook broad-
ened into a pool five or six feet across. There, just over
the middle of the pool, a foot or so above the water, was
a sparrow hanging head down and quite motionless.

Reynard's first impulse was to spring, but as the bird
neither fluttered nor moved, this impulse was checked,
and he fell to considering.



308 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

It was very queer that a bird should sustain itself
in mid air without using its wings. It also was not
afraid of him. This, too, was strange. Then the fox
noticed a small, straight twig running from the bird's
feet up into the branches of the tree that overhung
the brook.

Was the bird holding to this, or was the twig holding
the bird? This last seemed more likely, for the bird
must be dead, as it neither fluttered nor chirped.

It was a very handy breakfast, almost providential,
in fact, but there was something about it that the fox
did not like. He was accustomed to working for his
board, and having the meal thus set before him with-
out price seemed queer.

Then he sniffed the bank up and down the little
stream for thirty feet. There seemed to be no man
scent. He crossed over and tried the other side. This,
to, was untainted. After all, perhaps it was all right.

Once he thought he got a suggestion of man scent
from a broken twig, but finally concluded that it was
the taint he had got further down the brook that still
lingered in his nostrils.

The bird was too far out over the water for him to
reach it from shore, but there was a convenient stone,
covered with a bit of moss, half w r ay between him and
his breakfast. This would make good footing. A fox
never wets his feet if he can help it, and he would use
this stepping-stone.

He paused a moment with one paw uplifted as he
reached for the bird. It was all too strangely easy.

Pooh ! what was the use of questioning the good for-
tune that had made his breakfast come easy for once, so
he stepped boldly out upon the moss.

Then something jumped from out the water and
caught his leg just above the first joint so quickly that
he knew not how it was done. With a lightning spring
he bounded backward, bringing a long, snake-like thing
out of the brook after him and a queer looking clam
upon his paw.

Whe-e-e-w! How it bit! He snapped at it, and
shook his paw, but it still clung. Then he bit at it



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 309

furiously. It did not bite back, but it was so hard that
it hurt his teeth, which seemed to make no impression
upon it. But he would soon shake it off, and he spun
round and round, snapping and snarling, even crossing
to the other side of the brook. But the snake-like thing
followed him, and the clam bit harder and harder. He
would see what effect water had on it ; perhaps he could
drown it. He held the clam under water for a minute
or two, but it still nipped him, and the snake-like thing
followed as before.

Perhaps if he could kill this noisy thing that rattled
after him everywhere he went, the clam would let go
his paw, so he attacked the chain furiously, but it was
as hard as ever and the clam seemed only to mock him.

Then he lay down and licked his throbbing paw, and
wondered vaguely how it had happened. He was
always careful, but this evidently was some strange
device to kill him.

He wriggled and twisted, bit and tore ; lay upon the
ground and shook his paw, sprang suddenly into the
air, crossed from one side of the brook to the other, and
tried every stratagem known to fox cunning, but all to
no purpose, for the ugly clam still held his paw with a
grip like death.

Foam dripped from his lips, and his eyes grew wild
and bloodshot. His breath came hard and fast, while
in his heart fear contended with sullen rage for mas-
tery. He was very thirsty, but did not dare drink in
the brook, for he thought it would do him some harm.
The field and woods had seemed so free and wild an
hour before, and now they were filled with terror. This
bit of a demon on his paw had changed everything.

After one of these wild plunges, in which he shook
himself, rolled and tumbled, snapped and snarled, he
bit at his paw in sheer desperation. It did not hurt so
much as he had expected, and a new idea came to him.
If he could not get his paw from the strange creature's
mouth, he might leave the part it had hold of, and
escape on three legs.

He lay down again for a moment, to get back his
wind and courage, and then with a few sharp crunches



310 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

of his jaws severed the limb, and was free, minus the
torn and bleeding forepaw in the trap. Free to hop off
on three legs into the woods. But he left a bloody trail
on ferns and leaves, and many a tuft of moss was
painted crimson.

From that time on he was known to both man and
beast as the three-legged fox, an outcast and a vagrant,
hunted and dogged by men.

In time he learned to travel very well on three legs,
but he never could conceal his identity. If any boy on
his way to school saw a ragged fox track he would at
once tell the other boys that the tripod fox had crossed
the night before in Jenkins's pasture. If the snow was
soft, one of the paw prints was always deeper than the
others, and if it was very deep you could see where the
stump dragged in the snow.

He never could excel in the long, hard chase, for his
lameness prevented that, so his wits had to make up
what he lacked in fleetness. There were many kinds of
hunting, too, that he had to forego, but he developed a
cunning and resourcefulness that were not matched by

any other fox in the country.

####**##*#

It was not until his fifth year that the tripod fox met
Fuzzy, the one oasis in his desert life. Fuzzy was three
years old, and she alone of all his kindred seemed to
overlook his infirmity. Presently three little kit foxes
made their appearance, and the tripod fox was the
proudest sire for many miles around. He made longer
excursions into the valley than ever he had before, for
he had to hunt for the family.

The annual fox hunt, which was to be followed by a
banquet in the evening, took place about the first of
November. A horseman with a bugle had awakened
the fox hunters at four a. m., and the men and the pack
were off at five.

Fuzzy and the youngsters had gone into the meadows
to look for food that morning at about three o'clock.

In some way the young foxes got separated from
their mother, and ran recklessly about without any
other purpose than to keep out of reach of the noisy



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 311

pack. As the club said, "They were just old enough
to play nicely."

By seven o'clock the pelts to two of them, were
dangling from the pockets of lucky hunters, and the
third fox, who had also been shot at, bolted, and the
hounds went out of hearing. They came back after
about two hours, for a pack will not follow a fox as
far straight across country as a single hound. But the
young fox, who had been badly scared, was never seen
in that part of the country again.

Once more the tripod fox felt himself an outcast in
the land of his fathers, and something of his old morose-
ness came back to him. But still he had Fuzzy, and
she alone was the joy of his lonely life. December and
January craAvled by. It was a very hard winter, and
the fox family had all they could do to keep down the
pangs of hunger that gnawed at their vitals.

One morning Fuzzy went into the meadows to feast
upon a dead horse. The fox club had drawn the dead
horse into the meadows as a decoy, where they could
start a fox without so much trouble as they would other-
wise have to take. The club got out early the same
morning that Fuzzy made her trip to the dead horse,
and the pack at once took her track. Seven members
of the fox club were out, and they patrolled the mea-
dows thoroughly, each posted at some likely spot for
a fox to cross.

Half way back to the mountain, Fuzzy ran upon one
of the hunters, and had a close shave for her life. Her
coming had not been announced by the pack, and the
sportsman was not ready for her. His glove fumbled
the trigger, and as the fox was on low ground he shot
over her, but the roar of the gun rolled across the mea-
dows and echoed from hilltop to hilltop. The tripod
fox heard it on the mountain and was anxious, so he
came out at the top of a cliff under a small spruce to
watch and listen.

Presently he heard the pack in full cry and saw a
small yellow speck coming straight for the mountain
about half a mile away. It was Fuzzy. She was run-
ing well, and the pack was fifty rods behind her. She



312 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

would make the mountain nicely, if no unseen hunter
intervened.

The tripod fox strained every nerve to watch the race
for life of his mate. The pack did not gain upon her,
and he felt sure that she would make it. It was fine
running for both dog and fox, and the pack swept
across the meadows like the wind.

Fuzzy was now within a quarter of a mile of the foot
of the mountain. Her mate from his hiding place under
the spruce, saw nothing but clear fields before her and
smiled broadly at the thought of her triumph. Then he
saw a team driving rapidly across the meadows, the
horses going at a gallop. On the seat beside the driver
was a tall, gaunt hound that the tripod fox did not re-
member to have seen before.

The team was driving to head off the pack where it
would cross the road forty rods from the foot of the
mountain. The man was holding the hound by the col-
lar, and the dog was straining and tugging to get free.
Then the pack crossed the road just ahead of the team,
and the man let go the hound. With great bounds that
ate up distance like an express train he came after the
pack, overtook it, and drew nearer and nearer to the
flying fox. The tripod fox saw the new danger, and
gritted his teeth and strained his sight, that no move-
ment might escape him.

Fuzzy redoubled her efforts and drew away from the
pack, but the gaunt hound closed rapidly in upon her.
Only four or five rods now separated them. Twice Fuzzy
doubled and the gaunt monster ran by her, but the
third time he reached over and closed his lank jaws
upon her back and threw her over backwards, where
she lay limp upon the snow. She did not rise again,
for her back had been broken as though it had been a
reed.

All were glad except the red fox on the mountain,
who went sullenly back to his lonely den.

Four times during the coming week the tripod fox
witnessed the same tragedy in the valley below, the
pack in full cry, the flying fox, and the hideous end of
death.



SECOND SUPPLEMENT 313

Revenge was very sweet to the three-legged fox, and
he wanted more of it. They had not paid the price
of Fuzzy 's death yet, so he schemed and bided his time.

The first of March was exceptionally warm, and
brought rain, and then a sharp frost, which left a crust
like ice. This was what the tripod fox was waiting
for. So he went into the valley early one morning and
left his trail in all likely places and then came back
to the foot of the mountain and waited. One hour, two
hours went by, and still he sat there upon his haunches
waiting.

Just as the sun was peeping over the eastern hills he
heard the cry of the pack, and again that broad smile
overspread his crafty countenance.

The club was out in full force to-day, for it was to
be the last hunt of the season, and everyone wished to
bag as many pelts as possible to swell the total of the
year's brushes. The red fox, sitting on his haunches at
the foot of the mountain, waited until the pack got
within twenty or thirty rods of him before he began
the ascent. The hounds were slipping and sliding on
the crust, but the fox picked out the best path for them
up the mountain side that he could find. By keeping
under the trees, where icicles had frozen to the crust
and where the rain had not fallen so freely, he found
good footing for them. Up, up they went, the fox lead-
ing by a few rods, and the pack following eagerly.
Occasionally the hounds caught sight of the fox lei-
surely climbing a few rods ahead of them, and the valley
below echoed with their full-throated cry. The wait-
ing hunters on the crossroads wondered. A fox had
never taken the dogs up into the mountain in that way
before and they were surprised that the pack could fol-
low him up the ascent on such a crust.

Half way up Reynard stopped and waited, to give the
pack a good look at him, and to encourage it in the
ascent. This time he let the dogs get within four or
five rods of him. He did not climb any higher, but ran
along the side of the mountain for a short distance.
Just opposite a small scrub spruce he stopped and again
waited for the pack.



314 MORAL AND HUMANE EDUCATION

On came the pack bellowing wildly, but the red fox
sat quietly waiting its coming. The climb had been
slow and the pack was nicely together, and swept along
the mountain side to the waiting fox almost in a bunch.

There he sat like a statue, grimly inviting it on. With
yelps and snarls of eagerness the dogs rushed upon him,
but he barely eluded them, slipping and sliding just
ahead of them toward the scrub spruce. They followed
him excitedly, in fact they could do nothing else once
they had started down the slippery incline.

One of the hunters in the valley below saw the pack
following along the side of the mountain, but just at
the scrub spruce, which looked like a bush from where
he stood, he lost sight of it and waited for its reappear-
ance. Although he could not see the dogs he knew by
their cries that they were close upon the fox, and he
fully expected them to catch him, if he did not hole,
which foxes occasionally did in the mountains.

He was still straining his eyes and waiting expect-
antly, when a yellow speck, that his trained sight told
him was a fox, shot out over the perpendicular cliff,
and fell three hundred feet upon the rocks below. It
was still in the air when a white object much larger
followed it. This had not struck when a black and
white form fell. The hunter gasped, but was too thun-
derstruck to speak. Then two more dogs shot over the
cliff simultaneously, a fifth followed, and a second later
the entire pack of five dogs, valued by the club at two
hundred dollars, was lying upon the rocks, most of the
hounds too mangled even to kick in their death
moments.

The reddish-yellow pelt of the tripod fox was among


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Online LibraryFlora Helm KrauseManual of moral and humane education, June to September inclusive → online text (page 16 of 19)