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Francis C. Woodworth.

Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match online

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city upon the spot of his interment, which he named, in honor of his
favorite, Bucephalia.

An odd sort of an old mare, called by her master Nancy, used to go by my
father's house, when I was a child. She was the bearer of Peter
Packer - Uncle Peter, as he was sometimes called by the good people in
our neighborhood - and he was the bearer of the weekly newspaper, and
was, withal, quite as odd as his mare. As long as I can remember, Uncle
Peter went his weekly rounds, and for aught I know, he is going to this
day. No storm, or tempest, or snow-bank, could detain him, that is, not
longer than a day or two, in his mission. He was a very punctual man - in
other words, he always paced leisurely along, some time or another.
Speaking of pacing, reminds me that the mare aforesaid belonged to that
particular class and order called _pacers_, from their peculiar gait. I
should think, too, that the mare was not altogether unlike the
celebrated animal on which Don Quixote rode in pursuit of wind-mills,
and things of that sort. But she had one peculiarity which is not set
down in the description of Rozinante, to wit: the faculty of diagonal or
oblique locomotion. This mare of Uncle Peter's went forward something
after the fashion of a crab, and a little like a ship with the wind
abeam, as the sailors would say. It was a standing topic of dispute
among us school-boys, whether the animal went head foremost or not. But
that did not matter much, practically, it is true, so that she always
made her circuit; and that she did, as I have said before. Sometimes she
was a day or two later than usual. But that seldom occurred except in
the summer season; and when it did happen, it was on this wise: she had
a most passionate love for the study of practical botany; and not being
allowed, when at home, to pursue her favorite science as often as she
wished, owing partly to a want of specimens, and partly to her master's
desire to educate her in the more solid branches - he was a great
advocate for the solid branches - she frequently took the liberty to
divest herself of her bridle, when standing at the door of her master's
customers, and to pace away in search of the dear flowers. Oh, she was a
devoted student of botany! so much so, that her desire to obtain
botanical specimens did sometimes interfere a good deal with her
other literary and scientific engagements. She used to do very nearly as
she chose. Uncle Peter seldom crossed her in her inclinations. If she
was pacing along the highway, and felt a little thirsty, she never
hesitated to stop, whether her master invited her to do so or not, at a
brook or a watering-trough. Uncle Peter used to say, that he never tried
to prevent these liberties but once, and he had occasion to repent
bitterly of that. A thunder-storm was coming on, and he was in a hurry
to get to the next house. But the mare was determined, before she went
any further, to stop at a stream of water and drink. He set out to have
his way - Nancy set out to have hers. The result was, that Peter was
obliged to yield. But that was not the worst of it. The old mare was so
much vexed because her master disputed her will, that while she was
standing in the brook, she threw up her hind feet and let him fall over
her head into the water. That gentle correction cured Uncle Peter. She
had her own way after the ducking.

[Illustration: UNCLE PETER AND HIS OLD MARE.]

Horses have been known to cherish a strong attachment for each other. In
one of the British wars called the peninsular war, two horses, who had
long been associated together, assisting in dragging the same piece of
artillery, became so much attached to each other as to be inseparable
companions. At length one of them was killed in battle. After the
engagement was over, the other horse was attended to, as usual, and his
food was brought to him. But he refused to eat, and was constantly
turning his head to look for his former companion, sometimes neighing,
as if to call her. All the attention which was bestowed upon him was of
no avail. Though surrounded by other horses, he took no notice of them,
but was continually mourning for his lost friend. Shortly after he died,
having refused to taste any food from the day his companion was killed.

An old Shetland pony was so much attached to a little boy, his master,
that he would place his fore feet in the hands of the boy, like a dog,
thrust his head under his arm, to court his caresses, and join with him
and a little dog in their noisy rompings. The same animal daily carried
his master to school. He would even walk alone from the stable to the
school-house, to bring the boy home, and sometimes he would wait hours
for him, having come much too early.

But I have occupied the reader's attention long enough with stories of
the horse, interesting and noble as this animal is. I must, however,
before I pass to another subject, recite a touching ballad, from one of
our sweetest bards.

[Illustration: THE OLD HORSE'S ADDRESS TO HIS MASTER, ON BEING SENTENCED
TO DIE.]

And hast thou fixed my doom, kind master, say?
And wilt thou kill thy servant, old and poor?
A little longer let me live, I pray -
A little longer hobble round thy door.

For much it glads me to behold this place,
And house me in this hospitable shed;
It glads me more to see my master's face,
And linger on the spot where I was bred.

For oh! to think of what we have enjoyed,
In my life's prime, ere I was old and poor;
Then, from the jocund morn to eve employed,
My gracious master on my back I bore.

Thrice told ten happy years have danced along,
Since first to thee these wayworn limbs I gave;
Sweet smiling years, when both of us were young -
The kindest master, and the happiest slave!

Ah, years sweet smiling, now forever flown!
Ten years thrice told, alas! are as a day;
Yet, as together we are aged grown,
Together let us wear that age away.

For still the olden times are dear to thought,
And rapture marked each minute as it flew;
Light were our hearts, and every season brought
Pains that were soft, and pleasures that were new.

And hast thou fixed my doom, sweet master, say?
And wilt thou kill thy servant, old and poor?
A little longer let me live, I pray -
A little longer hobble round thy door.

But oh! kind Nature, take thy victim's life!
End thou a servant, feeble, old, and poor!
So shalt thou save me from the uplifted knife,
And gently stretch me at my master's door.




[Illustration: THE LEOPARD AND THE SERPENT.]

The Panther and Leopard.


Leopards and panthers are very similar in their appearance and habits;
so much so, that I shall introduce them both in the same chapter. The
engraving represents a panther. He is in some danger from the serpent
near him, I am inclined to think.

A panther is spoken of by an English lady, Mrs. Bowdich, who resided for
some time in Africa, as being thoroughly domesticated. He was as tame as
a cat, and much more affectionate than cats usually are. On one
occasion, when he was sick, the boy who had charge of him slept in his
den, and held the patient a great part of the time in his arms, and the
poor fellow appeared to be soothed by the care and attention of his
nurse. He had a great partiality for white people, probably because he
had been tamed by them; and the lady who gives this account of him was
his especial favorite. Twice each week she used to take him some
lavender water, which he was very fond of, and seized with great
eagerness. He allowed the children to play with him; and sometimes, when
he was sitting in the window, gazing upon what was going on below, the
little urchins would pull him down by the tail. It would seem to be
rather a dangerous experiment. But the panther let his play-fellows
enjoy the sport. I suppose he thought that though it was not very
pleasant to him, he would make the sacrifice of a little comfort rather
than to get angry and revenge himself. Besides, he might have said to
himself, "These boys like the sport pretty well; I should guess it was
capital fun for them; it is a pity to rob them of their amusement it
does not hurt me much, and I will let it go; they don't mean any harm;
they are the kindest, best-natured children in the world; they would go
without their own dinner, any day, rather than see me suffer." If the
panther said this to himself, it was a very wise and sensible speech;
and if he did not say it, my little readers may consider me as the
author of it. I am satisfied, whether the panther has the credit of
making the remarks or whether I have it, so that my young friends get
the benefit of the lesson.

In their wild state these animals are very destructive. The same lady
who tells the story about the tame panther, says that in one case a
panther leaped through an open window near her residence, and killed a
little girl who happened to be the only occupant of the house at the
time, except a man who was asleep.

The tame leopard is often used in India for the purpose of hunting
antelopes. He is carried in a kind of small wagon, blindfolded, to the
place where the herd of antelopes are feeding. The reason they blindfold
him is to prevent his being too much in a hurry, so that he might make
choice of an animal which is not worth much. He does not fly at his prey
at once, when let loose, but, winding along carefully, conceals himself,
until an opportunity offers for his leap; and then, with five or six
bounds, made with amazing force and rapidity, overtakes the herd, and
brings his prey to the ground.

I have read a very serious story of an American panther. The lady, who
is the heroine of the story, and her husband, were among the first
settlers in the wilderness of one of our western states. They at first
lived in a log cabin. The luxury of glass was unknown in that wild place
among the forests, and consequently light and air were admitted through
holes which were always open. Both husband and wife had been away from
home for a day or two; and on their return, they found some deer's
flesh, which had been hanging up inside, partly eaten, and the tracks of
an animal, which the gentleman supposed were those of a large dog. He
was again obliged to leave home for a night, and this time the lady
remained in the house alone. She went to bed; and soon after, she heard
an animal climbing up the outside of the hut, and jump down through one
of the openings into the adjoining room, with which her sleeping
apartment was connected by a doorway without a door. Peeping out, she
saw a huge panther, apparently seeking for prey, and of course very
hungry and fierce. She beat against the partition between the rooms, and
screamed as loudly as she could, which so frightened the panther that he
jumped out. He was, however, soon in again, and a second time she
frightened him away in the same manner, when she sprang out of bed, and
went to the fire-place, in the hope of making a sufficient blaze to keep
the panther from entering again. But the embers were too much burned,
and would send out but a slight flame. What could the poor woman do? She
thought of getting under the bed; but then she reflected that the animal
would find no difficulty in getting at her in that situation, in which
case he would tear her in pieces before she could make any resistance.

The only plan which then occurred to her mind for perfect security, was
to get into a large sea-chest of her husband's, which was nearly empty.
Into that she accordingly crept. But there was danger of her being
smothered in this retreat; so she put her hand between the edge of the
chest and the lid, in order to keep the chest open a little, and admit
the air. Fortunately this lid hung over the side of the chest a little,
which saved her fingers. The panther soon came back again, as was
anticipated; and after snuffing about for some time, evidently
discovered where the lady was, and prowled round and round the chest,
licking and scratching the wood close to her fingers. There she lay,
scarcely daring to move, and listening intently to every movement of her
enemy. At last, he jumped on the top of the chest. His weight crushed
her fingers terribly; but she was brave enough to keep them where they
were, until the panther, tired of his fruitless efforts to get at her,
and finding nothing else to eat, finally retreated. She did not dare to
come out of the chest, however, until morning; for she feared, as long
as it was dark, that the beast might come back again. So there she sat,
ready to crouch down into her hiding-place, if she heard a noise from
her enemy. There she remained till after daylight. She was a heroine,
was she not?

A horse was killed one night by an American panther; but the body was
not disturbed until the next day, when some gentlemen living in the
vicinity, had an opportunity of watching the motions of the panther when
he returned to his prey. He seized the body of the horse with his teeth,
and drew it about sixty paces to a river, into which he plunged with his
prey, swam across with it, and drew it into a neighboring forest.

The American panther is very fond of fish, and instances have been known
of these animals catching trout with their paws. Humboldt says that he
saw a great many turtle shells which the panthers had robbed of the
flesh. The manner in which the panther performs this operation, this
traveler informs us, is to run with all speed when he sees a number of
turtles together on land, and to turn them, or as many of them as he can
catch before they reach the water, upon their backs, so that they cannot
escape, after which he feasts at his leisure.

Two children, a girl and a boy, were playing together near a small
Indian village, in the vicinity of a thicket, when a large panther came
out of the woods and made toward them, playfully bounding along, his
head down, and his back arched after the fashion of the cat when she
chooses to put on some of her mischievous airs. He came up to the boy,
and began to play with him, as the latter at first supposed, although he
was convinced of his mistake when the panther hit him so severe a blow
on his head as to draw blood. Then the little girl, who had a small
stick in her hand, struck the panther; and matters were going on in this
way, when some Indians in the village, hearing the cries of the
children, came to their rescue.

A gentleman who was formerly in the British service at Ceylon, relates
the following anecdote: "I was at Jaffna, at the northern extremity of
the island of Ceylon, in the beginning of the year 1819, when, one
morning, my servant called me an hour or two before my usual time, with
'Master, master! people sent for master's dogs; leopard in the town!' My
gun chanced not to be put together; and while my servant was adjusting
it, the collector and two medical men, who had recently arrived, in
consequence of the cholera morbus having just then reached Ceylon from
the continent, came to my door, the former armed with a fowling-piece,
and the two latter with remarkably blunt hog spears. They insisted upon
setting off without waiting for my gun, a proceeding not much to my
taste. The leopard had taken refuge in a hut, the roof of which, like
those of Ceylon huts in general, spread to the ground like an umbrella;
the only aperture into it was a small door about four feet high. The
collector wanted to get the leopard out at once. I begged to wait for my
gun; but no, the fowling-piece (loaded with ball, of course) and the two
spears were quite enough. I got a stake, and awaited my fate from very
shame. At this moment, to my great delight, there arrived from the fort
an English officer, two artillerymen, and a Malay captain; and a pretty
figure we should have cut without them, as the event will show. I was
now quite ready to attack, and my gun came a minute afterward. The whole
scene which follows took place within an inclosure, about twenty feet
square, formed on three sides by a strong fence of palmyra leaves, and
on the fourth by the hut. At the door of this the two artillerymen
planted themselves; and the Malay captain got at the top, to frighten
the leopard out by unroofing it - an easy operation, as the huts there
are covered with cocoanut leaves. One of the artillerymen wanted to go
in to the leopard, but we would not suffer it. At last the beast sprang;
this man received him on his bayonet, which he thrust apparently down
his throat, firing his piece at the same moment. The bayonet broke off
short, leaving less than three inches on the musket; the rest remained
in the animal, but was invisible to us: the shot probably went through
his cheek, for it certainly did not seriously injure him, as he
instantly rose upon his legs, with a loud roar, and placed his paws upon
the soldier's breast. At this moment the animal appeared to me to about
reach the centre of the man's face; but I had scarcely time to observe
this, when the leopard, stooping his head, seized the soldier's arm in
his mouth, turned him half round, staggering, threw him over on his
back, and fell upon him. Our dread now was, that if we fired upon the
leopard we might kill the man: for a moment there was a pause, when his
comrade attacked the beast exactly in the same manner as the gallant
fellow himself had done. He struck his bayonet into his head; the
leopard rose at him; he fired; and this time the ball took effect, and
in the head. The animal staggered backward, and we all poured in our
fire. He still kicked and writhed; when the gentlemen with the spears
advanced and fixed him, while some natives finished him by beating him
on the head with hedge-stakes. The brave artilleryman was, after all,
but slightly hurt. He claimed the skin, which was very cheerfully given
to him. There was, however, a cry among the natives that the head should
be cut off: it was; and, in so doing, the knife came directly across the
bayonet. The animal measured scarcely less than four feet from the root
of the tail to the nose."

Captain Marryatt had a pretty serious adventure with a huge panther in
Africa, while his vessel lay at anchor in a river there, and he and his
men were busy in taking in a cargo of ivory. As they were thus engaged
one day, by some accident a hole was made in the bottom of the boat, and
they were unable to proceed with it. The captain told the men to remain
by the boat, and started himself to obtain assistance from the vessel.
He thought that if he could force his way through the canes which
abounded in that vicinity, a short distance down the river, he could
make signals to those on board, and that some of them would come to
their help. This expedition, however, proved a much longer one than he
anticipated, and much more perilous. He lost his way. "At first," he
says, "I got on very well, as there were little paths through the canes,
made, as I imagined, by the natives; and although I was up to my knees
in thick black mud, I continued to get on pretty fast; but at last the
canes grew so thick that I could hardly force my way through them, and
it was a work of exceeding labor. Still I persevered, expecting each
second I should arrive at the banks of the river, and be rewarded for my
fatigue; but the more I labored the worse it appeared for me, and at
last I became worn out and quite bewildered. I then tried to find my way
back, and was equally unsuccessful, when I sat down with any thing but
pleasant thoughts in my mind. I calculated that I had been two hours in
making this attempt, and was now quite puzzled how to proceed. I
bitterly lamented my rashness, now that it was too late. Having reposed
a little, I resumed my toil, and again, after an hour's exertion, was
compelled, from fatigue, to sit down in the deep black mud. Another
respite from toil and another hour more of exertion, and I gave myself
up for lost. The day was evidently fast closing in, the light over head
was not near so bright as it had been, and I knew that a night passed in
the miasma of the cane swamp was death. At last it became darker and
darker. There could not be an hour of daylight remaining. I determined
upon one struggle more, and reeking as I was with perspiration, and
faint with fatigue, I rose again, and was forcing my way through the
thickest of the canes, when I heard a deep growl, and perceived a large
panther not twenty yards from me. He was on the move as well as myself,
attempting to force his way through the thickest of the canes, so as to
come up to me. I retreated from him as fast as I could, but he gained
slowly upon me, and my strength was fast declining. I thought I heard
sounds at a distance, and they became more and more distinct; but what
they were, my fear and my struggles probably prevented from making out.

"My eyes were fixed upon the fierce animal who was in pursuit of me; and
I now thank God that the canes were so thick and impassable. Still the
animal evidently gained ground, until it was not more than twenty yards
from me, dashing and springing at the canes, and tearing them aside with
his teeth. The sounds were now nearer, and I made them out to be the
hallooing of some other animals. A moment's pause, and I thought it was
the barking of dogs, and I thought I must have arrived close to where
the schooner lay, and that I heard the barking of bloodhounds. At last I
could do no more, and dropped exhausted and almost senseless in the mud.
I recollect hearing the crashing of canes, and then the savage roar, and
the yells, and growls, and struggle, and fierce contention, but had
fainted.

"I must now inform the reader that about an hour after I had left the
boat, the captain of an American vessel was pulling up the river, and
was hailed by our men in our long boat. Perceiving them on that side of
the river, and that they were in distress, he pulled toward them, and
they told him what had happened, and that an hour previous I had left
the boat to force my way through the cane brakes, and they had heard
nothing of me since. 'Madness!' cried he, 'he is a lost man. Stay till I
come back from the schooner.' He went back to the schooner, and taking
two of his crew, who were negroes, and his two bloodhounds, into the
boat, he returned immediately; and as soon as he landed, he put the
bloodhounds on my track, and sent the negroes on with them. They had
followed me in all my windings - for it appeared that I had traveled in
all directions - and had come up with me just as I had sunk with
exhaustion, and the panther was so close upon me. The bloodhounds had
attacked the panther, and this was the noise which sounded on my ears as
I lay stupefied at the mercy of the wild beast. The panther was not
easily, although eventually overcome, and the black men coming up, had
found me and borne me in a state of insensibility on board my vessel.
The fever had set upon me, and it was not till three weeks afterward
that I recovered my senses, when I learned what I have told to the
reader."




[Illustration: THE ELEPHANT.]

The Elephant.


Several hunters once surprised a male and female elephant in an open
spot, near a thick swamp. The animals fled toward the thicket, and the
male was soon beyond the reach of the balls from the hunters' guns. The
female, however, was wounded so severely, that she was not able to make
her escape; and the hunters were about to capture her, when the male
elephant rushed from his retreat, and with a shrill and frightful
scream, like the sound of a trumpet, attacked the party. All escaped but
one, the man who had last discharged his gun, and who was standing with
his horse's bridle over his arm, reloading his gun, at the moment the
furious animal burst from the wood. This unfortunate man the elephant
immediately singled out, and before he could spring into his saddle, he
was prepared to revenge the insult that had been offered to his
companion. One blow from his trunk struck the poor man to the earth; and
without troubling himself about the horse, who galloped off at full
speed, the elephant thrust his tusks into the hunter's body, and flung
him high into the air. The unfortunate man was instantly killed. After
this act, the elephant walked gently up to his bleeding companion, and
regardless of the volleys with which he was assailed from the hunters,
he caressed her, and aided her in reaching a shelter in the thicket.

A tame elephant had a great affection for a dog; and those who visited
the place where the animal was exhibited, used to pull the dog's ears,
to make him yelp, on purpose to see what the elephant would do. On one


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