Francis C. Woodworth.

Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match online

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hanging from the string in his mouth, and after a few joyful capers
around his friend, departed on his travels, in the highest glee at his

The Albany Journal tells us of a dog in that city, who has formed the
habit of regarding a shadow with a great deal of interest. In this
particular, he is not unlike some people that one occasionally meets
with, who spend their whole time following shadows. The story of the
Albany editor is thus told: Those who are in the habit of frequenting
the post-office, between the hours of six and eight in the evening, have
doubtless noticed the singular wanderings of a dog near the first swing
door, without knowing the cause of his mysterious actions. The hall is
lighted with gas, and the burner is placed between the two doors. When
the outer door swings, the frame-work of the sash throws a moving shadow
on the wall, beneath the structure, which, from its peculiar movement
toward the floor, has attracted the notice of this dog. He watches it as
sharp as if it were a mouse, and although his labors have been
fruitless, yet he still continues nightly to grace this place with his
presence. Several attempts have been made to draw his attention from the
object, with but little success; for though his attention may be
diverted, it is soon lost, as the instant his eye catches the shadow, he
renews his watchings. In all his movements he is very harmless, and he
neither injures nor even molests those who have occasion to pass through
the hall.

As a farmer of good circumstances, who resided in the county of Norfolk,
England, was taking an excursion to a considerable distance from home,
during the frosts in the month of March 1795, he at length was so
benumbed by the intense cold, that he became stupefied, and so sleepy
that he found himself unable to proceed. He lay down, and would have
perished on the spot, had not a faithful dog, which attended him, as if
sensible of his dangerous situation, got on his breast, and, extending
himself over him, preserved the circulation of his blood. The dog, so
situated for many hours, kept up a continual barking, by which means,
and the assistance of some passengers, the farmer was roused, and led to
a house, where he soon recovered.

The Wolf.

From an authentic source I have obtained an incident of recent
occurrence, which painfully illustrates the fury of the wolf, while
engaged at a favorite meal. Near Lake Constance, in Canada, two men
observed some wolves engaged in eating a deer. One of them, named Black,
went to dispute the prize with these ravenous animals, when he
unfortunately fell a victim to his rashness, the wolves having devoured
him, leaving only a small portion of his bones.

Some three years since, while traveling in Canada, I met a lady who
resided with a brother in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, a few
hundred miles north of Montreal. This lady informed me that she had not
unfrequently been chased by wolves, while proceeding to the house of her
nearest neighbor - about ten miles distant - and that a pack of them,
unusually hungry, once seemed very much determined to pull her from
her horse, though they finally made up their minds that they would try
their fortunes in another direction.


It sometimes, though not very frequently happens, that several wolves
together attack men who travel on horseback, and fight furiously. A
story is told of two men who were traveling in this manner in Mexico,
when two or three wolves, who, one would suppose, had fasted a good
while, fell upon the men and their horses, and it was a matter of some
doubt, for a time, who would be the victors, the travelers or their
assailants. The former were armed with pistols, too. The wolves got the
worst of the battle, however, at last, and they retreated, as men very
often do when they go to war with each other - having gained nothing but
a broken limb or two, which they boast of for the remainder of their

A peasant in Russia was one day riding along, when he found that he was
pursued by eleven wolves. Being about two miles from home he urged his
horse to the very extent of his speed. At the entrance to his residence
was a gate, which being shut at the time, the frightened horse dashed
open, and carried his master safely into the yard. Nine of the wolves
followed the man and his horse into the inclosure, when fortunately,
the gate swung back, and caught them all as it were in a trap. Finding
themselves caught in this manner, the wolves seemed to lose all their
courage and ferocity. They shrunk away, and tried to hide themselves
instead of pursuing their prey, and they were all killed with very
little difficulty.

The following story of an encounter with a saucy wolf in the
south-western part of the United States, is taken from the journal of a
Santa Fe trader: "I shall not soon forget an adventure with a furious
wolf, many years ago, on the frontiers of Missouri. Riding near the
prairie border, I perceived one of the largest and fiercest of the gray
species, which had just descended from the west, and seemed famished to
desperation. I at once prepared for a chase; and being without arms, I
caught up a cudgel, when I betook me valiantly to the charge, much
stronger, as I soon discovered, in my cause than in my equipment. The
wolf was in no humor to flee, however, but boldly met me full half way.
I was soon disarmed, for my club broke upon the animal's head. He then
'laid to' my horse's legs, which, not relishing the conflict, gave a
plunge, and sent me whirling over his head, and made his escape, leaving
me and the wolf at close quarters. I was no sooner upon my feet than my
antagonist renewed the charge; but being without a weapon, or any means
of awakening an emotion of terror, save through his imagination, I took
off my large black hat, and using it for a shield, began to thrust it
toward his gaping jaws. My _ruse_ had the desired effect; for after
springing at me a few times, he wheeled about, and trotted off several
paces, and stopped to gaze at me. Being apprehensive that he might
change his mind, and return to the attack, and conscious that, under the
compromise, I had the best of the bargain, I very resolutely took to my
heels, glad of the opportunity of making a drawn game,[1] though I had
myself given the challenge." A friend of mine, who visited Texas a
little while ago, gives quite an interesting account of a ride he had
through an uninhabited part of that country, where wolves were abundant.
He says: "As there was no road, I was obliged to take the prairie. My
conveyance was a mule, which is, by the way, the best for a long journey
in this country, as it is far more capable of endurance than a horse.
When I had rode about five miles, I found that I had lost my course; and
as the sun was clouded, I had no means of guessing at the route. But I
pushed on, and soon found myself in a dense grove of live oak. Here I
heard a distinct barking, and thought I must be near a house. I rode
toward the place whence the noise seemed to proceed, but soon found that
I had committed a most egregious error; for I was in the very midst of a
pack of wolves, consisting of about a dozen. As you may suppose, I was
terribly frightened, though I had heard that wolves in the country
seldom molest any one traveling on horseback. Still, this interesting
party appeared singularly fierce and hungry, and I opened a large clasp
knife, the only available weapon I had, in order to be prepared for the
contemplated attack. In this way I rode on about a mile, with the wolves
after me, when the whole force quietly dispersed. After riding about
three hours more, I discovered that I had been on the wrong track all
the time, though I was not sure where I was; but it was so dark it was
not safe to go further. So I spread my cloak on the grass, tied my mule
up to a tree, made my saddle into a pillow, and, thus prepared, lay down
for the night. I thought of wolves and snakes for some time, but being
very tired, soon went to sleep."

[Footnote 1: A drawn game at chess, as some of my readers may not be
aware, is one in which neither party is the victor.]

The wolf is capable of strong attachments, and has been known to cherish
the memory of a friend for a great length of time. A wolf belonging to
the menagerie in London, met his old keeper, after three years' absence.
It was evening when the man returned, and the wolf's den was shut up
from any external observation; yet the instant the man's voice was
heard, the faithful animal set up the most anxious cries; and the door
of his cage being opened, he rushed toward his friend, leaped upon his
shoulders, licked his face, and threatened to bite his keepers on their
attempting to separate them. When the man ultimately went away, he fell
sick, was long on the verge of death, and would never after permit a
stranger to approach him.

Captain Franklin, in his journal of a voyage in the Polar seas, mentions
seeing white wolves there, and gives an account which shows the wolf to
be quite a cunning animal. A number of deer, says the captain, were
feeding on a high cliff, when a multitude of wolves slily encircled the
place, and then rushed upon the deer, scaring them over the precipice,
where they were crushed to death by the fall. The wolves then came down,
and devoured the deer at their leisure.


When I was quite a little boy, it used to be the fashion for many people
to fill children's heads with all manner of frightful stories about
wolves, and bears, and gentry of that sort - stories that had not a word
of truth in them, and which did a great deal of mischief. I remember to
this day, the horror I used to have, when obliged to go away alone in
the dark. Many a time I have looked behind me, thinking it quite likely
that a furious wolf was at my heels. The reason for this foolish
fear - for it was foolish, of course - was, that a servant girl, in the
employ of my mother, used to tell me scores of stories in which wolves
always played a very prominent part. I remember one story in particular,
which cost me a world of terror. The principal scene in the tale, and
the one which most frightened me, was at the time pictured so strongly
on my imagination, that it never entirely wore off. It was much after
this fashion. The wolf's jaws were opened wide enough to take a poor
fellow's head in, and fancy pictured that event as being about to happen
scores of times. Indeed, the nurse told me, over and over again, that
unless I kept out of mischief - which I did not always, I am sorry to
say - I should be sure to come to some such end. Boys and girls, if you
have ever heard such stories, don't let them trouble you for a moment.
There is not a word of truth in them. I know how you feel - some of you
who are quite young, and who have been entertained with stories of this
class - when any body asks you to go alone into a dark room. You are
afraid of something, and for your life cannot tell what. I should not
wonder very much if some of you were _afraid of the dark_. I have heard
children talk about being afraid of the dark. You laugh, perhaps. It is
rather funny - almost too funny to be treated seriously. Well, if it is
not the dark, what is it you are afraid of? Your parents, and others who
are older than you, are alone in the dark a thousand times in the course
of a year. Did you ever hear them say any thing about meeting a single
one of the heroes of the frightful stories you have heard? Do you think
they ever came across a ghost, or an apparition, or a fairy, or an elf,
or a witch, or a hobgoblin, or a giant, or a Blue-Beard, or a wolf? It
makes you smile to think of it. Well, then, after all, don't you think
it would be a great deal wiser and better to turn all these foolish
fancies out of your head, just as one would get rid of a company of
saucy rats and mice that were doing mischief in the cellar or
corn-house? I think so.

Before I have done with the wolf, I must recite that fable of √Жsop's,
about one who dressed himself up in the garb of a sheep, to impose upon
the shepherd, but who shared a very different fate from the one he


A wolf, clothing himself in the skin of a sheep, and getting in among
the flock, by this means took the opportunity to devour many of them. At
last the shepherd discovered him, and cunningly fastening a rope about
his neck, tied him up to a tree which stood hard by. Some other
shepherds happening to pass that way, and observing what he was about,
drew near and expressed their amazement. "What," says one of them,
"brother, do you make a practice of hanging sheep?" "No," replies the
other; "but I make a practice of hanging a wolf whenever I catch him,
though in the habit and garb of a sheep." Then he showed them their
mistake, and they applauded the justice of the execution. The moral of
this fable is so plain, that it is quite useless to repeat it.

The Horse.

Of all the animals which have been pressed into the service of man, the
horse, perhaps, is the most useful. What could we do without the labor
of this noble and faithful animal? Day after day, and year after year,
he toils on for his master, seldom complaining, when he is well treated,
seldom showing himself ungrateful to his friends, and sometimes
exhibiting the strongest attachment.

The following story is a matter of history, and is told by one who was a
witness of most of the facts connected with it: During the peninsular
war in Europe, the trumpeter of a French cavalry corps had a fine
charger assigned to him, of which he became passionately fond, and
which, by gentleness of disposition and uniform docility, equally
evinced its affection. The sound of the trumpeter's voice, the sight of
his uniform, or the twang of his trumpet, was sufficient to throw
this animal into a state of the greatest excitement; and he appeared
to be pleased and happy only when under the saddle of his rider. Indeed
he was unruly and useless to every body else; for once, on being removed
to another part of the forces, and consigned to a young officer, he
resolutely refused to perform his evolutions, and bolted straight to the
trumpeter's station, and there took his stand, jostling alongside his
former master. This animal, on being restored to the trumpeter, carried
him, during several of the peninsular campaigns, through many
difficulties and hair-breadth escapes. At last the corps to which he
belonged was worsted, and in the confusion of retreat the trumpeter was
mortally wounded. Dropping from his horse, his body was found, many days
after the engagement, stretched on the ground, with the faithful old
charger standing beside it. During the long interval, it seems that he
had never left the trumpeter's side, but had stood sentinel over his
corpse, as represented in the engraving, scaring away the birds of prey,
and remaining totally heedless of his own privations. When found, he was
in a sadly reduced condition, partly from loss of blood through wounds,
but chiefly from want of food, of which, in the excess of his grief, he
could not be prevailed on to partake.


In a book called "Sketches of the Horse," is an anecdote which exhibits
the intelligence of this animal in perhaps a still stronger light. A
farmer, living in the neighborhood of Bedford, in England, was returning
home from market one evening in 1828, and being somewhat tipsy, rolled
off his saddle into the middle of the road. His horse stood still; but
after remaining patiently for some time, and not observing any
disposition in his rider to get up and proceed further, he took him by
the collar and shook him. This had little or no effect, for the farmer
only gave a grumble of dissatisfaction at having his repose disturbed.
The animal was not to be put off by any such evasion, and so applied his
mouth to one of his master's coat-laps, and after several attempts, by
dragging at it, to raise him upon his feet, the coat-lap gave way. Three
individuals who witnessed this extraordinary proceeding then went up,
and assisted the man in mounting his horse.

My father had a horse, when I was a little boy, that was quite a pet
with the whole family. We called him Jack, and he knew his name as well
as I did. The biography of the old veteran would be very interesting, I
am sure, if any body were to write it. I do not mean to be his
biographer, however, though my partiality for him will be a sufficient
apology for a slight sketch.

Old Jack was a very intelligent horse. He would always come when he
heard his name called, let him be ever so far distant in the pasture;
that is, if he had a mind to come. Of course, being a gentleman of
discernment, he sometimes chose to stay where he was, and enjoy his
walk. This was especially the case when the grass was very green, and
when the person who came for him chanced to be a little green also. Jack
had his faults, it cannot be denied, and among them, perhaps the most
prominent one was a strong aversion to being caught by any body but my
father, whom he seemed to regard as having the sole right to summon him
from the pasture. I used occasionally to try my hand at catching him. In
fact, I succeeded several times, by stratagem only. I carried a measure
containing a few gills of oats with me into the field; and his love for
oats was so much stronger than his dislike of the catching process, that
I secured him. But after a while the old fellow became too cunning for
me. He came to the conclusion that the quantity of his favorite dish was
too small to warrant him in sacrificing his freedom. He had some
knowledge of arithmetic, you see. Certainly he must have cyphered as
far as loss and gain. One day I went into the pasture with my bridle
concealed behind me, and just about enough oats to cover the bottom of
my measure, and advanced carefully toward the spot where old Jack was
quietly grazing in the meadow. He did not stir as I approached. He held
up his head a little, and seemed to be thinking what it was best to do.
I drew nearer, encouraged, of course. The cunning fellow let me come
within a few feet of him, and then suddenly wheeled around, threw his
heels into the air, a great deal too near my head, and then started off
at full gallop, snorting his delight at the fun, and seeming to say, "I
am not quite so great a fool as you suppose."

Still, old Jack was kind and gentle. My father never had any trouble
with him, and many a long mile have I rode after him, when he went over
the ground like a bird. I loved him, with all his faults; I loved him
dearly, and when he was sold, we all had a long crying spell about it. I
remember the time well, when the man who purchased our old pet came to
take him away. I presume the man was kind enough, but really I never
could forgive him for buying the horse. He was rather a rough-looking
man, and he laughed a good deal when we told him he must be good to
Jack, and give him plenty of oats, and not make him work too hard. I
went out, with my sister, to bid our old friend a last sad good-bye. We
carried him some green grass - we knew how well he loved grass, he had
given us proof enough of that - and while he was eating it, and the man
was preparing to take him away, we talked to old Jack till the tears
stood in our eyes; we told him how sorry we were to part with him; and
he seemed to be sad, too, for he stopped eating his grass, and looked at
us tenderly, while we put our arms around his neck and caressed him for
the last time.

[Illustration: PARTING WITH OLD JACK.]

I have had a great many pets since - cats and dogs, squirrels and
rabbits, canary birds and parrots - but never any that I loved more than
I did old Jack; and to this day I am ashamed of the deception I
practiced upon him in the matter of the oats, when trying to catch him.
I don't wonder he resented the trick, and played one on me in return.

But I am transgressing the rule I laid down for myself in the outset of
these stories - not to prate much about my own pets. According to this
rule, I ought to have touched much more lightly upon the life and times
of old Jack.

A correspondent of the Providence (R. I.) Journal, gives an account of a
horse in his neighborhood that was remarkably fond of music. "A
physician," he says, "called daily to visit a patient opposite to my
place of residence. We had a piano in the room on the street, on which a
young lady daily practiced for several hours in the morning. The weather
was warm, and the windows were open, and the moment the horse caught the
sound of the piano, he would deliberately wheel about, cross the street,
place himself as near the window as possible, and there, with ears and
eyes dilating, would he quietly stand and listen till his owner came for
him. This was his daily practice. Sometimes the young lady would stop
playing when the doctor drove up. The horse would then remain quietly in
his place; but the first stroke of a key would arrest his attention, and
half a dozen notes would invariably call him across the street. I
witnessed the effect several times."

There was a show-bill printed during the reign of Queen Anne, a copy of
which is still to be seen in one of the public libraries in England, to
the following effect: "To be seen, at the Ship, upon Great Tower Hill,
the finest taught horse in the world. He fetches and carries like a
spaniel dog. If you hide a glove, a handkerchief, a door key, a pewter
spoon, or so small a thing as a silver twopence, he will seek about the
room till he has found it, and then he will bring it to his master.
He will also tell the number of spots on a card, and leap through a
hoop; with a variety of other curious performances."


The story of Alexander the Great, and his favorite horse Bucephalus,
doubtless most of my readers have heard before. Bucephalus was a
war-horse of a very high spirit, which had been sent to Philip,
Alexander's father, when the latter was a boy. This horse was taken out
into one of the parks connected with the palace, and the king and many
of his courtiers went to see him. The horse pranced about so furiously,
that every body was afraid of him. He seemed perfectly unmanageable. No
one was willing to risk his life by mounting such an unruly animal.
Philip, instead of being thankful for the present, was inclined to be in
ill humor about it. In the mean time, the boy Alexander stood quietly
by, watching all the motions of the horse, and seeming to be studying
his character. Philip had decided that the horse was useless, and had
given orders to have him sent back to Thessaly, where he came from.
Alexander did not much like the idea of losing so fine an animal, and
begged his father to allow him to mount the horse. Philip at first
refused, thinking the risk was too great. But he finally consented,
after his son had urged him a great while. So Alexander went up to the
horse, and took hold of his bridle. He patted him upon the neck, and
soothed him with his voice, showing him, at the same time, by his easy
and unconcerned manner, that he was not in the least afraid of him.
Bucephalus was calmed and subdued by the presence of Alexander. He
allowed himself to be caressed. Alexander turned his head in such a
direction as to prevent his seeing his own shadow, which had before
appeared to frighten him. Then he threw off his cloak, and sprang upon
the back of the horse, and let him go as fast as he pleased. The animal
flew across the plain, at the top of his speed, while the king and his
courtiers looked on, at first with extreme fear, but afterward with the
greatest admiration and pleasure. When Bucephalus had got tired of
running, he was easily reined in, and Alexander returned to the king,
who praised him very highly, and told him that he deserved a larger
kingdom than Macedon. Alexander had a larger kingdom, some years
after - a great deal larger one - though that is a part of another story.

Bucephalus became the favorite horse of Alexander, and was very
tractable and docile, though full of life and spirit. He would kneel
upon his fore legs, at the command of his master, in order that he might
mount more easily. A great many anecdotes are related of the feats of
Bucephalus, as a war-horse. He was never willing to have any one ride
him but Alexander. When the horse died, Alexander mourned for him a
great deal. He had him buried with great solemnity, and built a small

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Online LibraryFrancis C. WoodworthStories about Animals: with Pictures to Match → online text (page 3 of 12)