Francis C. Woodworth.

Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match online

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occasion, when this cruel sport was going on at the opposite side of the
barn where the elephant was kept, she no sooner heard the voice of her
friend in distress, than she began to feel the boards of the partition
which separated her and the dog, and then, striking them a heavy blow,
made them fly in splinters. After this she looked through the hole she
had made, which was large enough to admit her entire body, with such
threatening gestures, that the miserable fools who were teasing the dog
concluded that it would not pay very well to continue the sport.

At an exhibition of a menagerie in one of our principal cities, not long
since, when the crowd of spectators was the greatest, a little girl, who
had fed the elephant with sundry cakes and apples from her bag, drew out
her ivory card-case, which fell unobserved in the saw-dust of the ring.
At the close of the ring performances, the crowd opened to let the
elephant pass to his recess; but instead of proceeding as usual, he
turned aside and thrust his trunk in the midst of a group of ladies and
gentlemen, who, as might be expected, were so much alarmed that they
scattered in every direction. The keeper, at this moment, discovered
that the animal had something in his trunk. Upon examination, he found
it to be the young lady's card-case, which the elephant picked up, and
it now appeared that he was only seeking out the owner.

A person in the island of Ceylon, who lived near a place where elephants
were daily led to water, and often sat at the door of his house, used
occasionally to give one of these animals some fig leaves, a kind of
food which elephants are said to be very fond of. One day this man took
it into his head to play one of the elephants a trick. He wrapped up a
stone in fig leaves, and said to the man who had the elephants in
charge, "This time I am going to give him a stone to eat; I want to see
how it will agree with him." The keeper replied, that the elephant would
not be such a fool as to swallow the stone - he might make up his mind to
that. The other, however, reached out the stone to the elephant, who
took it in his trunk, but instantly let it fall to the ground. "You
see," said the keeper, "that I was right, and that the beast is not so
great a fool as you took him to be;" and drove away his elephants. After
they were watered, he was conducting them again to their stable. The man
who had played the elephant the trick was still sitting at his door,
when, before he had time to think of his danger, the insulted animal ran
at him, threw his trunk around his body, dashed him to the ground, and
trampled him to death.

At the Cape of Good Hope, it is customary to hunt these animals for the
sake of the ivory they obtain from them. Three horsemen armed with
lances, attack the beast alternately, each relieving the other as they
see their companion pressed, and likely to get the worst of the contest.
On one occasion three Dutchmen, who were brothers, having made large
fortunes at the cape by elephant hunting, were about to return home to
enjoy the fruits of their toil. They determined, however, the day before
they started, to have one more hunt by way of amusement. They went out
into the field, and soon met with an elephant, whom they began to attack
in their usual manner. But unfortunately, the horse of the man who was
fighting with the elephant at the time fell, and the rider was thrown to
the ground. Then the elephant had his vengeance, and it was a terrible
one - almost too terrible to think upon. He instantly seized the unhappy
man with his trunk, threw him up into the air to a vast height, and
received him upon his tusks as he fell. Then, turning toward the other
two brothers with an aspect of revenge and insult, he held out to them
the mangled body of his victim, writhing in the agony of death.

At Macassar an elephant driver one day had a cocoanut given him, which,
in order to break it, he struck two or three times against the
elephant's head. The next day the animal saw some cocoanuts exposed in
the street for sale, and taking one of them up in his trunk, beat it
about the driver's head until he fractured his skull.

Mr. Colton, the author of that admirable book called "Lacon," tells a
similar anecdote of an elephant in Madras. It was a war elephant, and
was trained to perform an act of civility called the _grand salam_,
which is done by falling on the first joint of the fore-leg at a given
signal. The elephant was to make the salam before a British officer. It
was noticed at the time that he was rather out of humor. The keeper was
ordered up to explain the cause, and was in the act of doing so, when
the elephant advanced a few steps, and with one stroke of his trunk laid
the poor man dead at his feet. He then retired to his former position,
and made the grand salam with the utmost propriety and apparent good
will. The wife of the unfortunate man said that she had always been
afraid something of that kind would happen, as her husband had been
constantly in the habit of robbing the elephant of his rations of rice.

It is said that when once wild elephants have been caught, and eluded
the snares of their adversaries, if they are compelled to go into the
woods they are mistrustful, and break with their trunk a large branch,
with which they sound the ground before they put their foot upon it, to
discover if there are any holes on their passage, not to be caught a
second time. "We saw two wild elephants," says a traveler, "which had
just been caught; each of them was between two tame elephant; and around
the wild elephants were six men, holding spears. They spoke to these
animals in presenting them something to eat, and telling them, in their
language, _take this and eat it_. They had small bundles of hay, bits of
black sugar, or rice boiled in water with pepper. When the wild elephant
refused to do what he was ordered, the men commanded the tame elephants
to beat him, which they did immediately, one striking his forehead with
his; and when he seemed to aim at revenge against his aggressor, another
struck him; so that the poor wild elephant perceived he had nothing to
do but to obey."

A sentinel belonging to the menagerie at Paris, was in the habit of
telling the spectators not to give any food to the elephant during the
exhibition. One day, after a piece of bread had been presented to the
animal, the sentinel had commenced making the usual request, when the
elephant violently discharged in his face a stream of water, so that he
could not utter the admonition in his confusion. Of course the
spectators roared with laughter, and the elephant seemed to enjoy the
joke as well as they. By and by, the sentinel having wiped his face,
found himself under the necessity of repeating the request which he had
made before. But no sooner had he done this, than the elephant laid hold
of his musket with her trunk, wrested it from his hands, twirled it
round and round, trod it under her feet, and did not restore it until
she had twisted it nearly into the form of a cork-screw.

Elephants are occasionally taught to work on a farm, like horses and
oxen. Any one visiting Singapore, may see a small elephant, named Rajah,
working daily on the estate of J. Balestier, Esq., American Consul; and,
although the animal is only five years and a half old, he will plough
his acre of land a day, with ease. One man holds the plough, and another
walks beside the animal, and directs him in his duty. The docile little
creature obeys every word that is said to him, and will plough all day
between the cane rows, without plucking a single cane.

An elephant was once wounded in battle, and rendered so furious by the
pain she endured, that she ran about the field, uttering the most
hideous cries. One of the men was unable, in consequence of his wounds,
to get out of her way. The elephant seemed conscious of his situation,
and for fear she should trample upon him, took him up with her trunk,
placed him where he would be more safe, and continued her route.

A young elephant received a violent wound in its head, from which it
became so furious that it was utterly impossible to come near it to
dress the wound. A variety of expedients were tried, but in vain, until
at last the keeper hit upon this plan: he succeeded in making the mother
understand, by signs, what he wanted, and she immediately seized the
young one around the neck with her trunk, and held it firmly down,
though groaning with anguish, until the wound was dressed. This she
continued to do every day, for some time afterward, until the service
was no longer necessary.

Elephants are said to be exceedingly susceptible of the power of music,
and some curious experiments were tried at Paris, with a view of
observing the effect of it upon them. In one instance, a band was placed
near their den, while some food was given to a pair of elephants, to
engage their attention. On the commencement of the music, the huge
creatures turned round, and appeared alarmed for their safety, either
from the players or the spectators. The music, however, soon overcame
their fears, and all other emotions appeared absorbed in their attention
to it. According to the character of the music, so were their feelings.
If it was bold, they were excited, or manifested signs of approaching
anger. If it was brisk, they were lively; if it was plaintive, they were
soothed by its effects. The female seemed to express the most lively
emotions of the two.

A merchant in the East Indies kept a tame elephant, which was so
exceedingly gentle in his habits, that he was permitted to go at large.
This huge animal used to walk about the streets in the most quiet and
orderly manner, and paid many visits through the city to people who were
kind to him. Two cobblers took an ill will to this inoffensive creature,
and several times pricked him on the proboscis with their awls. The
noble animal did not chastise them in the manner he might have done, and
seemed to think they were too contemptible to be angry with them. But he
took other means to punish them for their cruelty. He filled his trunk
with water of a dirty quality, and advancing toward them in his ordinary
manner, spouted the whole of the puddle over them. The punishment was
highly applauded by those who witnessed it, and the poor cobblers were
laughed at for their pains.

[Illustration: THE LION.]

The Lion.

I have read a thrilling story of a poor Hottentot, who was sent to take
his master's cattle to water at a pool not far off from the house. When
he came to the watering-place, he perceived that a huge lion was lying
there, apparently bathing himself. He immediately ran, with the greatest
terror, through the midst of the herd of cattle, hoping the lion would
be satisfied with one of the cattle, and allow him to escape. He was
mistaken, however. The lion dashed through the herd, and made directly
after the man. Throwing his eyes over his shoulder, he saw that the
furious animal had singled him out. Not knowing what else to do to get
clear of his enemy, he scrambled up an aloe-tree, that happened to be
near. At that very moment the lion made a spring at him, but
unsuccessfully, and fell to the ground. There was in the tree a cluster
of nests of the bird called the sociable grosbeak; and the Hottentot hid
himself among these nests, in hopes that he could get out of the lion's
sight, and that the beast would leave him. So he remained silent and
motionless for a great while, and then ventured to peep out of his
retreat. To his surprise, he perceived that he was still watched. In
this way, he was kept a prisoner for more than twenty-four hours, when,
at last, the lion, parched with thirst, went to the pool to drink, and
the Hottentot embraced the opportunity to come down, and run home as
fast as his legs would carry him.

There is a thrilling anecdote told of a settler in the back districts of
the Cape of Good Hope, who was a hunter. Returning, one day, with some
friends, from an excursion, they suddenly came upon two large full-grown
lions. Their horses were already jaded, and the utmost consternation for
a moment seized them. They immediately saw that their only hope of
safety lay in separation. They started in somewhat different directions,
at the top of their speed, holding their rifles on the cock. Those who
were most lightly loaded made good way, but the third was left behind,
and, as his companions disappeared below the brow of a hill, the two
beasts came directly after him. He quickly loosed a deer which was tied
to his saddle, but the prey was not sufficient to distract them from
their purpose. Happily, as is the custom, both barrels of his piece were
loaded with ball - a most timely precaution in that country - and he was a
good marksman. Turning for a moment, he leveled his gun with as much
precision as at such a time he could command, and fired. He waited not
for the result, but again scampered off as quickly as his horse could
carry him, but he heard a deep, short, and outrageous roar. The ball was
afterward found to have entered the animal's breast, and lodged in his
back. His work, however, was but half done. The time he had lost
sufficed to bring the other within reach, and, with a tremendous bound,
he leaped upon the horse's back, lacerating it in a dreadful manner, but
missed his hold, for the poor creature, mad with agony and fear, kicked
with all his force, and hurried forward with increased rapidity. A
second attempt was more successful, and the hunter was shaken from his
seat; the horse, however, again escaped.

The poor fellow gave himself up for lost, but he was a brave man, and he
determined not to die without every attempt to save his life should
fail. Escape he saw was hopeless; so planting himself with the energy of
despair, he put his rifle hastily to his shoulder, and just as the lion
was stooping for his spring, he fired. He was a little too late; the
beast had moved, and the ball did not prove so effective as he hoped. It
entered the side of the wild beast, though it did him no mortal harm,
and he leaped at his victim. The shot had, nevertheless, delayed his
bound for an instant, and the hunter avoided its effect by a rapid jump,
and with the butt-end of his gun struck at the lion with all his power,
as he turned upon him. The dreadful creature seized it with his teeth,
but with such force, that instead of twisting it out of the hunter's
hand, he broke it short off by the barrel. The hunter immediately
attacked him again, but his weapon was too short, and the lion fixed his
claws in his breast, tearing off all his flesh, and endeavored to gripe
his shoulder with his mouth, but the gun-barrel was of excellent
service. Driving it into the mouth of the beast with all his strength,
he seized one of the creature's jaws with his left hand, and, what with
the strength and energy given by the dreadful circumstances, and the
purchase obtained by the gun-barrel, he succeeded in splitting the
animal's mouth. At the same time they fell together on their sides, and
a struggle for several minutes ensued upon the ground. Blood flowed
freely in the lion's mouth, and nearly choked him. His motions were thus
so frustrated that the hunter was upon his feet first, and, aiming a
blow with all his might, he knocked out one of the lion's eyes. He
roared terrifically with pain and rage, and, during the moments of delay
caused by the loss of his eye, the hunter got behind him, and, animated
by his success, hit him a dreadful stroke on the back of the neck, which
he knew was the most tender part. The stroke, however, appeared to have
no effect, for the lion immediately leaped at him again; but, it is
supposed from a defect of vision occasioned by the loss of his eye,
instead of coming down upon the hunter, he leaped beside him, and shook
his head, as if from excess of pain. The hunter felt his strength
rapidly declining, but the agony he endured excited him, and thus gave
new power to strike the lion again across the eyes. The beast fell
backward, but drew the hunter with him with his paw, and another
struggle took place upon the ground. He felt that the gun-barrel was his
safeguard; and though it rather seemed to encumber his hands, he clung
tenaciously to it. Rising up from the ground in terrible pain, he
managed to thrust it into the throat of the lion with all his might.
That thrust was fatal; and the huge animal fell on his side, powerless.
The hunter dragged himself to a considerable distance, and then fell
exhausted and senseless. His friends shortly afterward returned to his

A lion had broken into a walled inclosure for cattle, and had done
considerable damage. The people belonging to the farm were well assured
that he would come again by the same way. They therefore stretched a
rope directly across the entrance, to which several loaded guns were
fastened, in such a manner that they must necessarily discharge
themselves into the lion's body, as soon as he should push against the
cord with his breast. But the lion, who came before it was dark, and had
probably some suspicion of the cord, struck it away with his foot, and
without betraying the least alarm in consequence of the reports made by
the loaded pieces, went fearlessly on, and devoured the prey he had left
untouched before.

The strength of the lion is so prodigious, that a single stroke of his
paw is sufficient to break the back of a horse; and one sweep of his
tail will throw a strong man to the ground. Kolbein says, that when he
comes up to his prey, he always knocks it down dead, and seldom bites it
till the mortal blow has been given. A lion at the Cape of Good Hope
was once seen to take a heifer in his mouth; and though that animal's
legs dragged on the ground, yet he seemed to carry her off with as much
ease as a cat does a rat.

One of the residents in South Africa - according to the Naturalist's
History - shot a lion in the most perilous circumstances that can be
conceived. We must tell the story in his own words. "My wife," he says,
"was sitting in the house, near the door. The children were playing
around her. I was outside, busily engaged in doing something to a wagon,
when suddenly, though it was mid-day, an enormous lion came up and laid
himself quietly down in the shade, upon the very threshold of the door.
My wife, either stupefied with fear, or aware of the danger attending
any attempt to fly, remained motionless in her place, while the children
took refuge in her lap. The cry they uttered immediately attracted my
attention. I hastened toward the door; but my astonishment may well be
conceived, when I found the entrance to it barred in such a way.
Although the animal had not seen me, unarmed as I was, escape seemed
impossible; yet I glided gently, scarcely knowing what I meant to do, to
the side of the house, up to the window of my chamber, where I knew my
loaded gun was standing, and which I found in such a condition, that I
could reach it with my hand - a most fortunate circumstance; and still
more so, when I found that the door of the room was open, so that I
could see the whole danger of the scene. The lion was beginning to move,
perhaps with the intention of making a spring. There was no longer any
time to think. I called softly to the mother not to be alarmed; and,
invoking the name of the Lord, fired my piece. The ball passed directly
over the hair of my boy's head, and lodged in the forehead of the lion,
immediately above his eyes, which shot forth, as it were, sparks of
fire, and stretched him on the ground, so that he never stirred more."

Nothing is more common than for the keepers of wild beasts to play with
the lion, to pull out his tongue, and even to chastise him without
cause. He seems to bear it all with the utmost composure; and we very
rarely have instances of his revenging these unprovoked sallies of
cruelty. However, when his anger is at last excited, the consequences
are terrible. Labat tells us of a gentleman who kept a lion in his
chamber, and employed a servant to attend it, who, as is usual, mixed
blows with his caresses. This state of things continued for some time,
till one morning the gentleman was awakened by a noise in his room,
which at first he could not tell the cause of; but, drawing the
curtains, he perceived a horrid spectacle - the lion growling over the
man's head, which he had separated from the body, and tossing it round
the floor! He immediately flew into the next apartment, called to the
people without, and had the animal secured from doing further mischief.

We are told of the combat of a lion and a wild boar, in a meadow near
Algiers, which continued for a long time with incredible obstinacy. At
last, both were seen to fall by the wounds they had given each other;
and the ground all about them was covered with their blood. These
instances, however, are rare; the lion is in general undisputed master
of the forest.

It was once customary for those who were unable to pay sixpence for the
sight of the wild beasts in the tower of London, to bring a dog or a
cat, as a gift to the beasts, in lieu of money to the keeper. Among
others, a man had brought a pretty black spaniel, which was thrown into
the cage of the great lion. Immediately the little animal trembled and
shivered, crouched, and threw himself on his back, put forth his tongue,
and held up his paws, as if praying for mercy. In the mean time, the
lion, instead of devouring him, turned him over with one paw, and then
with the other. He smelled of him, and seemed desirous of courting a
further acquaintance. The keeper, on seeing this, brought a large mess
of his own family dinner. But the lion kept aloof, and refused to eat,
keeping his eye on the dog, and inviting him, as it were, to be his
taster. At length, the little animal's fears being somewhat abated, and
his appetite quickened by the smell of the food, he approached slowly,
and, with trembling, ventured to eat. The lion then advanced gently, and
began to partake, and they finished their meal very quietly together.

From this day, a strict friendship commenced between them, consisting of
great affection and tenderness on the part of the lion, and the utmost
confidence and boldness on the part of the dog; insomuch that he would
lay himself down to sleep, within the fangs and under the jaws of his
terrible patron. In about twelve months the little spaniel sickened and
died. For a time the lion did not appear to conceive otherwise than that
his favorite was asleep. He would continue to smell of him, and then
would stir him with his nose, and turn him over with his paws. But
finding that all his efforts to wake him were vain, he would traverse
his cage from end to end, at a swift and uneasy pace. He would then
stop, and look down upon him with a fixed and drooping regard, and again
lift up his head, and roar for several minutes, as the sound of distant
thunder. They attempted, but in vain, to convey the carcass from him.
The keeper then endeavored to tempt him with a variety of food, but he
turned from all that was offered, with loathing. They then put several
living dogs in his cage, which he tore in pieces, but left their
carcasses on the floor. His passions being thus inflamed, he would
grapple at the bars of his cage, as if enraged at his restraint from
tearing those around him to pieces. Again, as if quite spent, he would
stretch himself by the remains of his beloved associate, lay his paws
upon him, and take him to his bosom; and then utter his grief in deep
and melancholy roaring, for the loss of his little play-fellow. For five
days he thus languished, and gradually declined, without taking any
sustenance or admitting any comfort, till, one morning, he was found
dead, with his head reclined on the carcass of his little friend. They
were both interred together.

A lion, when about three months old, was caught in the forests of
Senegal, and tamed by the director of the African company in that
colony. He became unusually tractable and gentle. He slept in company
with cats, dogs, geese, monkeys, and other animals, and never offered
any violence to them. When he was about eight months old, he formed an
attachment to a terrier dog, and this attachment increased afterward to
such an extent, that the lion was seldom happy in the absence of his
companion. At the age of fourteen months, the lion, with the dog in
company, was transported to France. He showed so little ferocity on
shipboard, that he was allowed at all times to have the liberty of
walking about the vessel. When he was landed at Havre, he was conducted

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Online LibraryFrancis C. WoodworthStories about Animals: with Pictures to Match → online text (page 5 of 12)