Francis C. Woodworth.

Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match online

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horse a cut, and did not feel quite safe until I had got some miles
away. I made up my mind from that time forward to let young kittens
alone, and mind my own business.'"

The Jackal.

Like the hyena, the jackal derives its principal notoriety from its
ferocious and untameable disposition. It is found in Southern Asia, in
many parts of Africa, and, to some extent, in Syria and Persia. There is
not much difference in the jackal and the dog, except in some of the
habits of the two, and there is a great deal of similarity between the
former and the wolf. By many Biblical commentators, it is thought that
the three hundred foxes to which the sacred penman alludes in the book
of Judges, as performing a singular and mischievous exploit in the
standing corn of the Philistines, were jackals; and their habit of
assembling together in large companies, so as to be taken in
considerable numbers, seems to justify this conclusion - the fox being,
on the other hand, a solitary animal, and in the habit of living for
the most part in small families. To the inhabitants of hot countries,
the jackal is of the same service as the vulture and the hyena. He does
not scruple to feed upon putrid flesh. Wherever there is an animal in a
state of putrefaction, he scents it out from a great distance, and soon
devours it. In this way the air is often freed from substances in the
highest degree unwholesome and deadly. Nor is this all. One of the
habits of this animal is to enter grave-yards, and dig up the bodies
that have been buried there. In countries where jackals abound, great
care needs to be taken in protecting graves, newly opened, on this
account. People frequently mix the earth on the mound raised over a
grave with thorns and other sharp substances, to prevent the jackal from
accomplishing the deed.

[Illustration: THE JACKAL.]

Still the jackal makes his living, in a great measure, by hunting other
beasts. Indeed, he not only makes his own living, but, if the stories
that are told about him are true, he helps other animals in getting
their living, though it is very doubtful whether he means to do so. He
has been called the "lion's provider," you know; and some have
represented him as a humble slave of the lion, obeying his will in every
thing, hunting for him, and only receiving for his portion what his
majesty is pleased to leave. But this notion is probably somewhat
fabulous. The upshot of the matter seems to be this: that the jackal,
having about as much wit as some other servants of kings, chases after
his prey, yelling with all his might, very industriously, and without
hardly stopping to take breath, until the poor hare, or fawn, or
whatever the animal may be, gets tired out, and then the jackal catches
him. But the hunter, by his yelling, starts the lion, as soon as he gets
upon the scent. The lion knows well enough that there is game somewhere
in that region; and so he is on the look-out, while the jackal is
running it down. Well, the jackal has to go over a great deal more
ground than the lion - for these animals, when they are pursued, never go
in a straight direction - and when the game is caught, he has had little
more to do than to look on and enjoy the sport, and he comes up, at his
leisure, just at the right time, to the spot where the jackals are going
to have a feast over their well-earned prey. Then the lion thanks his
dear friends, the jackals, and gives them liberty to retire a few
moments, until he has tasted of their dinner, in order, perhaps he tells
them, to see whether they have made a good selection. After satisfying
his appetite, the jackals have unrestrained liberty to lick the bones,
just as much and as long as they please.

In Captain Beechey's account of his expedition to explore the northern
coasts of Africa, we have an interesting description of this animal. He
does not give a very favorable account of the music made by a band of
jackals. "As they usually come in packs," he says, "the first shriek
which is uttered is always a signal for a general chorus. We hardly know
a sound which is further removed from pleasant harmony than their yells.
The sudden burst of the long-protracted scream, succeeding immediately
to the opening note, is scarcely less impressive than the roll of the
thunder clap after a flash of lightning. The effect of this music is
very much increased when the first note is heard in the distance - a
circumstance which frequently occurs - and the answering yell bursts out
from several points at once, within a few yards of the place where the
auditors are sleeping, or trying to sleep."

It sometimes happens that a jackal ventures near a house, and perhaps
enters a hen-roost, to steal a hen. But in such cases, he often shows
himself to be as stupid as he is impudent; for even then, if he hears
the yelling of his comrades chasing their game, he forgets himself, and
yells as lustily as the rest of them. The result is as might be
expected. The inmates of the house are awakened, and they take such
measures with the poor jackal, as effectually to prevent his repetition
of the blunder.


The Sheep.

Sheep, as well as many other animals, show a great fondness for music.
The following anecdote in proof of such a taste, is given on the
authority of the celebrated musician, Haydn. He and several other
gentlemen were making a tour through a mountainous part of Lombardy,
when they fell in with a flock of sheep, which a shepherd was driving
homeward. One of the gentlemen, having a flute with him, commenced
playing, and immediately the sheep, which were following the shepherd,
raised their heads, and turned with haste to the spot whence the music
proceeded. They gradually flocked around the musician, and listened with
the utmost silence and attention. He stopped playing. But the sheep did
not stir. The shepherd, with his staff, now obliged them to move on;
but no sooner did the fluter begin to play again, than his interested
audience returned to him. The shepherd got out of patience, and pelted
the sheep with pieces of turf; but not one of them moved. The fluter
played still more sweet and beautiful strains. The shepherd worked
himself up into a storm of passion. He scolded, and pelted the poor
creatures with stones. Some of the sheep were hit, and they made up
their minds to go on; but the rest remained spell-bound by the music. At
last the shepherd was forced to entreat the flute-player to stop his
music. He did stop, and the sheep moved off, but still they continued to
look behind them occasionally, and to manifest a desire to return, as
often as the musician resumed his playing.

The life of a shepherd is very favorable for study and for improvement
in knowledge, if one has the natural genius and the industry to make use
of his spare time. Some of the most eminent men the world ever saw began
their career by the care of a flock of sheep. Did you ever hear of
Giotto, the great painter Giotto? No doubt you have. He was the man who
made that famous design for a church, at the request of Pope Benedict
IX. The messengers of the pope entered the artist's studio, and
communicated the wish of their master. Giotto took a sheet of paper,
fixed his elbow at his side, to keep his hand steady, and instantly drew
a perfect circle. "Tell his holiness that this is my design," said he.
His friends tried to persuade him not to send such a thing to the pope;
but he persisted in doing so. Pope Benedict was a learned man, and he
saw that Giotto had given the best evidence of perfection in his art. He
invited the painter to Rome, and honored and rewarded him. "Round as
Giotto's O," from that time, became an Italian proverb. But I must give
a glance at the early history of this man. In the year 1276 - according
to that invaluable publication, "Chambers' Miscellany of Useful and
Entertaining Knowledge" - about forty miles from Florence, in the town of
Vespignano, there lived a poor laboring man named Bondone. This man had
a son whom he brought up in the ignorance usual to the lowly condition
of a peasant boy. But the extraordinary powers of the child,
uncultivated as they necessarily were, and his surprising quickness of
perception and never-failing vivacity, made him the delight of his
father, and of the unsophisticated people among whom he lived. At the
age of ten, his father intrusted him with the care of a flock. Now the
happy little shepherd-boy strolled at his will over meadow and plain
with his woolly charge, and amused himself with lying on the grass, and
sketching, as fancy led him, the surrounding objects, on broad flat
stones, sand, or soft earth. His sole pencils were a hard stick, or a
sharp piece of stone; his chief models were his flock, which he used to
copy as they gathered around him in various attitudes. One day, as the
shepherd-boy lay in the midst of his flock, earnestly sketching
something on a stone, there came by a traveler. Struck with the boy's
deep attention to his work, and the unconscious grace of his attitude,
the stranger stopped, and went to look at his work. It was a sketch of a
sheep, drawn with such freedom and truth of nature, that the traveler
beheld it with astonishment. "Whose son are you?" cried he, with
eagerness. The startled boy looked up in the face of his questioner. "My
father is Bondone the laborer, and I am his little Giotto, so please the
signor," said he. "Well, then, Giotto, should you like to come and live
with me, and learn how to draw, and paint sheep like this, and horses,
and even men?" The child's eyes flashed with delight, "I will go with
you any where to learn that," said he; "but," he added, as a sudden
thought made him change color, "I must first go and ask my father; I
can do nothing without his leave." "That is quite right, my boy, and so
we will go to him together, and ask him," said the stranger. It was the
celebrated painter, Cimabue. Old Bondone consented to the wish of his
son, and the boy went to Florence with Cimabue. Giotto soon went beyond
his master in his sketches. His former familiarity with nature, while
tending his sheep, doubtless contributed a good deal to his astonishing
progress. One morning the master came into his studio, and looking at a
half finished head, saw a fly resting on the nose. He tried to brush it
off with his hand, when he discovered that it was only painted, and that
it was one of the tricks of his young pupil. It was not long before the
fame of the new artist spread all over Europe.


The author of that pleasant little book, called "Stories of the Instinct
of Animals," relates a pleasing anecdote of a sheep in England. "One
afternoon, in summer," he says, "after an illness which had confined me
some time to the house, I went out into the field, to enjoy awhile the
luxury of a walk at leisure among the beauties of nature. I had not been
long in the field, before my attention was attracted by the motions of
one of the sheep that were grazing there. She came up close to me,
bleating in a piteous manner; and after looking wishfully in my face,
ran off toward a brook which flowed through the pasture. At first I took
but little notice of the creature; but as her entreaties became more
importunate, I followed her. Delighted at having attracted my notice,
she ran with all her speed, frequently looking back, to see if I was
following her. When I reached the spot where she led me, I discovered
the cause of all her anxiety. Her lamb had fallen into the brook, and
the banks being steep, the poor little creature was unable to escape.
Fortunately, the water, though up to the back of the lamb, was not
sufficient to drown it. I rescued the sufferer with the utmost pleasure,
and to the great gratification of its affectionate mother, who licked
it with her tongue, to dry it, now and then skipping about, and making
noisy demonstrations of joy. I watched her with interest, till she lay
down with her little one, caressing it with the utmost fondness, and
apparently trying to show me how much she was indebted to me, for my
friendly aid."


A man was once passing through a lonely part of the Highlands in
Scotland, when he perceived a sheep hurrying toward the road before him.
She was bleating most piteously at the time; and as the man approached
nearer, she redoubled her cries, looked earnestly into his face, and
seemed to be imploring his assistance. He stopped, left his wagon, and
followed the sheep. She led him quite a distance from the road, to a
solitary spot, and at length she stopped. When the traveler came up, he
found a lamb completely wedged in between two large stones, and
struggling, in vain, to extricate himself. The gentleman immediately set
the little sufferer free, and placed him on his feet, when the mother
poured out her thanks and joy, in a long-continued and animated strain
of bleating.

I am indebted to a correspondent of mine - Dr. Charles Burr, residing in
the state of Pennsylvania - for a good story about a sheep which
belonged to his father a number of years ago. This sheep, he says, was a
_cosset_, was quite tame, and very much of a pet. One day, a young lamb
of hers was wounded; and "my father (I must let the doctor tell his
story in his own words) being out of the door, noticed the mother upon
the hill by the barn, being as near the house as she could come. She
appeared to be in great distress, running about, looking toward him, and
bleating; evidently wishing to attract his attention. Supposing that
something must be wrong, my father started to see what was the matter.
The old sheep waited till he had got almost up to her, when she started
and ran a few rods from him and stopped, turned round, looked at him,
and bleated. My father followed on. The old sheep waited until he had
got nearly up to her again, when she ran on, and went through the same
operation as before. In this way she led my father to the farthest end
of the pasture, where lay her lamb, bleeding and helpless. The little
thing had bled so much that it could not raise its head, or help itself
in the least. My father took the lamb, stanched the bleeding wound, took
it in his arms and carried it home - the old sheep, in the mean time,
following, and expressing her joy and gratitude, not by words, it is
true, but by looks and actions more truthful, and which were not to be
mistaken. Suffice it to say, that with proper care and nursing, the lamb
was saved, and restored to health and strength, to the great
satisfaction of both parties concerned."

I have a mind to tell you one of my own youthful adventures, in which a
poor wight of a sheep had a prominent share. The adventure proved of
immense service to me, as you will see in the sequel. Perhaps the story
of it will be valuable to you, in the same manner.

I shall never forget the first time I sallied out into the woods to try
my hand at hunting. Rover, the old family dog, went with me, and he was
about as green in the matter of securing game as myself. We were pretty
well matched, I think. I played the part of Hudibras, as nearly as I can
recollect, and Rover was a second Ralph. I had a most excellent
fowling-piece; so they said. It began its career in the French war, and
was a very veteran in service. Besides this ancient and honorable
weapon, I was provided with all the means and appliances necessary for
successful hunting. I was "armed and equipped as the law directs," to
employ the words of those semi-annual documents that used to summon me
to training.

Well, it was some time before we - Rover and I - started any game.
Wind-mills were scarce. For one, I began to fear we should have to
return without any adventure to call forth our skill and courage. But
the brightest time is just before day, and so it was in this instance.
Rover began presently to bark, and I heard a slight rustling among the
leaves in the woods. Sure enough, there was visible a large animal of
some kind, though I could not determine precisely what it was, on
account of the underbrush. However, I satisfied myself it was rare game,
at any rate; and that point being settled, I took aim and fired.

Rover immediately ran to the poor victim. He was a courageous fellow,
that Rover, especially after the danger was over. Many a time I have
known him make demonstrations as fierce as a tiger when people rode by
our house, though he generally took care not to insult them until they
were at a convenient distance. Rover had no notion of being killed,
knowing very well that if he were dead, he could be of no farther
service whatever to the world. Hudibras said well when he said,

"That he who fights and runs away,
May live to fight another day."

That was good logic. But Rover went farther than this, even. He was for
running away before he fought at all; and so he always did, except when
the enemy ran away first, in which case he ran after him, as every
chivalrous dog should. In the case of the animal which I shot at, Rover
bounded to his side when the gun was discharged, as I said before. For
myself, I did not venture quite so soon, remembering that caution is the
parent of safety. By and by, however, I mustered courage, and advanced
to the spot. There lay the victim of my first shot. It was one of my
father's sheep! Poor creature! She was sick, I believe, and went into
the thicket, near a stream of water, where she could die in peace. I
don't know whether I hit her or not. I didn't look to see, but ran home
as fast as my legs would carry me. Thus ended the first hunting
excursion in which I ever engaged; and though I was a mere boy then, and
am approaching the meridian of life now, it proved to be my last.

The Deer.

There are several species of the deer - the moose, stag, rein-deer, elk,
and others. Of these, the stag is one of the most interesting. He is
said to love music, and to show great delight in hearing a person sing.
"Traveling some years since," says a gentleman whose statements may be
relied on, "I met a bevy of about twenty stags, following a bagpipe and
violin. While the music continued, they proceeded; when it ceased, they
all stood still."

As Captain Smith, a British officer in Bengal, was out one day in a
shooting party, very early in the morning, they observed a tiger steal
out of a jungle, in pursuit of a herd of deer. Having selected one as
his object, it was quickly deserted by the herd. The tiger advanced
with such amazing swiftness, that the stag in vain attempted to
escape, and at the moment the officer expected to see the animal make
the fatal spring, the deer gallantly faced his enemy, and for some
minutes kept him at bay; and it was not till after three attacks, that
the tiger succeeded in securing his prey. He was supposed to have been
considerably injured by the horns of the stag, as, on the advance of
Captain Smith, he abandoned the carcass, having only sucked the blood
from the throat.

[Illustration: THE DEER.]

The following account of a remarkably intelligent stag, is given by
Delacroix, a French gentleman: "When I was at Compiegne, my friends took
me to a German, who exhibited a wonderful stag. As soon as we had taken
our seats in a large room, the stag was introduced. He was of an elegant
form, and majestic stature, and his aspect animated and gentle. The
first trick he performed, was to make a profound bow to the company, as
he entered, after which he paid his respects to each individual of us,
in the same manner. He next carried about a small stick in his mouth, to
each end of which a small wax taper was attached. He was then
blindfolded, and at the beat of a drum, fell upon his knees, and laid
his head upon the ground. As soon as the word _pardon_ was pronounced,
he instantly sprang upon his feet. Dice were then thrown upon the head
of a drum, and he told the numbers that were thrown up, by bowing his
head as many times as there were numbers indicated. He discharged a
pistol, by drawing with his teeth a string that was fastened to the
trigger. He fired a small cannon by means of a match which was attached
to his right foot, and he exhibited no signs of fear at the report of
the cannon. He leaped through a hoop several times, with the greatest
agility - his master holding the hoop at the height of his head above the
floor. At length the exhibition was closed, by his eating a handfull of
oats from the head of a drum, which a person was beating all the time,
with the utmost violence."

We must wind up what we have to say about this animal with a fable.
Perhaps my little friends have seen it before. But it will bear reading
again, and I should not be sorry to hear that many of you had committed
it to memory; for there is a moral in it which you cannot fail to
perceive, and which may be of service to you one of these days:

"A stag, quenching his thirst in a clear lake, was struck with the
beauty of his horns, which he saw reflected in the water. At the same
time, observing the extreme length and slenderness of his legs, 'What a
pity it is,' said he, 'that so fine a creature should be furnished with
so despicable a set of spindle-shanks! What a noble animal I should be,
were my legs answerable to my horns!'

"In the midst of this vain talk, the stag was alarmed by the cry of a
pack of hounds. He immediately bounded over the ground, and left his
pursuers so far behind that he might have escaped; but going into a
thick wood, his horns were entangled in the branches of the trees, where
he was held till the hounds came up, and tore him in pieces.

"In his last moments he thus exclaimed: 'How ill do we judge of our own
true advantages! The legs which I despised would have borne me away in
safety, had not my favorite antlers brought me to ruin.'"

The Hippopotamus.

Every traveler, who has seen the hippopotamus in his native haunts, and
who has attempted to give a description of the animal, represents him as
exceedingly formidable, when he is irritated, and when he can get a
chance to fight his battle in the water. On land, he is unwieldy and
awkward; so that, when he is pursued by an enemy, he usually takes to
his favorite element. There he plunges in head foremost, and sinks to
the bottom, where it is said he finds no difficulty in moving with the
same pace as when upon land, in the open air. He cannot, however,
continue under water for any great length of time. He is obliged to rise
to the surface, to take breath. Severe battles sometimes take place
between the males, and they make sad havoc before they get through.

[Illustration: THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.]

Great masses of flesh, torn out by their terrible jaws, mark the spot
where one of these encounters has occurred. It not unfrequently happens
that one or even both perish on the spot. On the banks of the Nile,
whole fields of grain and sugar cane are sometimes destroyed by these

Clapperton, the enterprising traveler, informs us that, when on a
warlike expedition, he had convincing evidence that the hippopotamus is
fond of music. "As the expedition passed along the banks of the lake at
sunrise," says he, "these uncouth and stupendous animals followed the
sound of the drums the whole length of the water, sometimes approaching
so close to the shore, that the spray they spouted from their mouths
reached the people, who were passing along the banks. I counted fifteen,
at one time, sporting on the surface of the water."

The following account of hunting the hippopotamus is given by Dr. Edward
Russell: "One of the animals we killed was of an enormous size. We
fought with him for four good hours by night, and came very near losing
our large boat, and probably our lives too, owing to the fury of the
animal. As soon as he spied the hunters in the small canoe, he dashed at
them with all his might, dragged the canoe with him under the water,
and smashed it to pieces. The two hunters escaped with difficulty. Of
twenty-five musket balls aimed at the head, only one pierced the skin
and the bones of the nose. At each snorting, the animal spouted out
large streams of blood on the boat. The rest of the balls stuck in the
thick hide. At last, we availed ourselves of a swivel; but it was not
until we had discharged five balls from it, at the distance of a few
feet, that the huge animal gave up the ghost. The darkness of the night
increased the danger of the contest, for this gigantic enemy tossed our
boat about in the stream at his pleasure; and it was a fortunate moment
for us that he gave up the struggle, as he had carried us into a
complete labyrinth of rocks, which, in the midst of the confusion, none

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Online LibraryFrancis C. WoodworthStories about Animals: with Pictures to Match → online text (page 10 of 12)