talk with him first, and formally proposed that he should enter their
service, and do whatever he was fit for in the menagerie.
"You're not frightened of the beasts, are you?" she said.
"Oh no, ma'am; I love them!" answered Clare. "But are you sure
Mr. Halliwell thinks I could be of use?"
"Don't you think yourself you could?" asked Mrs. Halliwell.
"I know I could, ma'am; but I should not like him to take me just
because he was sorry for me!"
"You innocent! People are in no such hurry to help their
neighbours. My husband's as good a man as any going; but it don't mean
he would take a boy because nobody else would have him. A fool of a
woman might - I won't say; but not a man I ever knew. No, no! He saw
the way you managed that bull! - a far more unreasonable creature than
any we have to do with!"
"Ah! you don't know Nimrod, ma'am!"
"I don't, an' I don't want to! - Such wild animals ought to be put in
caravans!" she added, with a laugh.
"Well, ma'am," said Clare, "if you and Mr. Halliwell are of one mind,
nothing would please me so much as to serve you and the beasts. But I
should like to be sure about it, for where husband and wife are not of
one mind - well, it is uncomfortable!"
Thereupon he told her how he had stood with the farmer and his wife;
and from that she led him on through his whole story - not
unaccompanied with tears on the part of his deliverer, for she was a
tender-souled as well as generous and friendly woman. In her heart she
rejoiced to think that the boy's sufferings would now be at an end;
and thenceforward she was, as he always called her, his third mother.
"My poor, ill-used child!" she said. "But I'll be a mother to you - if
you'll have me!"
"You wouldn't mind if I thought rather often of my two other mothers,
ma'am - would you?" he said.
"God forbid, boy!" she answered. "If I were your real mother, would I
have my own flesh and blood ungrateful? Should I be proud of him for
loving nobody but me? That's like the worst of the beasts: they love
none but their little ones - and that only till they're tired of the
trouble of them!"
"Thank you! Then I will be your son Clare, please, ma'am."
The next time they stopped, she made her husband come into her
caravan, and then and there she would and did have everything
arranged. When both her husband and the boy would have left his wages
undetermined, she would not hear of it, but insisted that so much a
week should be fixed at once to begin with. She had no doubt, she
said, that her husband would soon be ready enough to raise his wages;
but he must have his food and five shillings a week now, and
Mr. Halliwell must advance money to get him decent clothes: he might
keep the wages till the clothes were paid for!
Everything she wished was agreed to by her husband, and at the next
town, Clare's new mother saw him dressed to her satisfaction, and to
his own. She would have his holiday clothes better than his present
part in life required, and she would not let his sovereign go toward
paying for them: that she would keep ready in case he might want it!
Her eyes followed him about with anxious pride - as if she had been his
mother in fact as she was in truth.
He had at once plenty to do. The favour of his mother saved him from
no kind of work, neither had he any desire it should. Every morning he
took his share in cleaning out the cages, and in setting water for the
beasts, and food for the birds and such other creatures as took it
when they pleased. At the proper intervals he fed as many as he might
of those animals that had stated times for their meals; and found the
advantage of this in its facilitating his friendly approaches to
them. He helped with the horses also - with whose harness and ways he
was already familiar. In a very short time he was known as a friend by
every civilized animal in and about the caravans.
He did all that was required of him, and more. Not everyone of course
had a right to give him orders, but Clare was not particular as to who
wanted him, or for what. He was far too glad to have work to look at
the gift askance. He did not make trouble of what ought to be none, by
saying, with the spirit of a slave, "It's not my place." He did many
things which he might have disputed, for he never thought of disputing
them. Thus, both for himself and for others, he saved a great deal of
time, and avoided much annoyance and much quarrelling. Thus also he
gained many friends.
He had but one enemy, and he did not make him such: he was one by
nature. For he was so different from Clare that he disliked him the
moment he saw him, and it took but a day to ripen his dislike into
hatred. Like Mr. Maidstone, he found the innocent fearlessness of
Clare's expression repulsive. His fingers twitched, he said, to have a
twist at the sheep-nose of him. Unhappily for Clare, he was of
consequence in the menagerie, having money in the concern. He was
half-brother to the proprietor, but so unlike him that he might not
have had a drop of blood from the same source. An ill-tempered,
imperious man, he would hurt himself to have his way, for he was the
merest slave to what he fancied. When a man _will_ have a thing, right
or wrong, that man is a slave to that thing - the meanest of slaves, a
willing one. He was the terror of the men beneath him, heeding no man
but his brother - and him only because he knew "he would stand no
nonsense." To his sister-in-law he was civil: she was his brother's
wife, and his brother was proud of her! Also he knew that she was
perfect in her part of the business. So it was reason to stand as well
as he might with her!
Clare had no suspicion that he more than disliked him. It took him
days indeed to discover even that he did not love him - notwithstanding
the bilious eye which, when its owner was idle, kept constantly
following him. And idle he often was, not from laziness, but from the
love of ordering about, and looking superior.
It was natural that such a man should also be cruel. There are who
find their existence pleasant in proportion as they make that of
others miserable. He had no liking for any of the animals, regarding
them only as property with never a right; - as if God would make
anything live without thereby giving it rights! To Glum Gunn, as he
was commonly called behind his back, the animals were worth so much
money to sell, and so much to show. Yet he prided himself that he had
a great influence as well as power over them, an occult superiority
that made him their lord. It was merely a phase of the vulgarest
self-conceit. He posed to himself as a lion-tamer! He had never tamed
a lion, or any creature else, in his life; but when he had a wild
thing safe within iron bars, then he "let him know who was his
master!" By the terror of his whip, and means far worse, he compelled
obedience. The grizzly alone, of the larger animals, he never
From the first he received Clare's "_Good-morning, sir_," with a
silent stare; and the boy at last, thinking he did not like to be so
greeted, gave up the salutation. This roused Gunn's anger and
increased his hate. But indeed any boy petted by his sister-in-law,
would have been odious to him; and any boy whatever would have found
him a hard master. Clare was for a while protected by the man's
unreadiness to have words with his brother, who always took his wife's
part; but the tyrant soon learned that he might venture far.
For he saw, by the boy's ready smile, that he never resented anything,
which the brute, as most boys would have done, attributed to
cowardice; and he learned that he never carried tales to his sister,
of which, instead of admiring him for his reticence, he took
advantage, and set about making life bitter to him.
It was some time before he began to succeed, for Clare was hard to
annoy. Patient, and right ready to be pleased, he could hardly imagine
offence intended; the thought was all but unthinkable to Clare's
nature; so he let evil pass and be forgotten as if it had never been.
Once, as he ran along with a heavy pail of water, Gunn shot out his
foot and threw him down: he rose with a cut in his forehead, and a
smile on his lips. He carried the mark of the pail as long as he
carried his body, but it was long before he believed he had been
tripped up. Had it been proved to him at the time, he would have taken
it as a joke, intending no hurt. He did not see the lurid smile on the
man's face as he turned away, a smile of devilish delight at the
discomfiture of a hated fellow-creature. Gunn put him to the dirtiest
work - only to find that it did not trouble him: the boy was a rare
gentleman - unwilling another should have more that he might have less
of the disagreeable. I have two or three times heard him say that no
man had the right to require of another the thing he would think
degrading to himself. He said he learned this from the New Testament.
"But," he said, "nothing God has made necessary, can possibly be
degrading. It may not be the thing for this or that man, at this or
that time, to do, but it cannot in itself be degrading."
The boy had to take his turn with several in acting showman to the
gazing crowd, and by and by the part fell to him oftenest. Each had
his own way of filling the office. One would repeat his information
like a lesson in which he was not interested, and expected no one else
to be interested. Another made himself the clown of the exhibition,
and joked as much and as well as he could. Gunn delighted in telling
as many lies as he dared: he must not be suspected of making fools of
his audience! Clare, who from books knew far more than any of the
others concerning the creatures in their wild state, and who, by
watching them because he loved them, had already noted things none of
the others had observed, and was fast learning more, talked to the
spectators out of his own sincere and warm interest, giving them from
his treasure things new and old - things he had read, and things he had
for himself discovered. Group after group of simple country people
would listen intently as he led them round, eager after every word;
and as any peg will do to hang hate upon, even this success was noted
with evil eye by Glum Gunn. Almost anything served to increase his
malignity. Whether or not it grew the faster that he had as yet found
no wider outlet for it, I cannot tell.
At last, however, the tyrant learned how to inflict the keenest pain
on the tender-hearted boy, counting him the greater idiot that he
could so "be got at," as he phrased it, and promising himself much
enjoyment from the discovery. But he did not know - how should he
know - what love may compel!
I need hardly say that by this time all the beasts with any
friendliness in them had for Clare a little more than their usual
amount of that feeling. But there was one between whom and him - I
prefer _who_ to _which_ for certain animals - a real friendship had
begun at once, and had grown and ripened rapidly till it was strong on
both sides. Clare's new friend - and companion as much as circumstance
permitted - was the same whose lonely gambols had so much attracted him
the night he first entered the menagerie. The animal, whom Clare had
taken for a young lion - without being so far wrong, for he has often
been called the American lion - was the puma, or couguar, peculiar to
America, with a relation to the jaguar, also American, a little
similar to that of the lion to the tiger. But while the jaguar is as
wicked a beast as the tiger, the puma possesses, in relation to man,
far more than the fabulous generosity of the lion. Like every good
creature he has been misunderstood and slandered, but a few have known
him, He has doubtless degenerated in districts, for as the wild animal
must gradually disappear before the human, he cannot help becoming in
the process less friendly to humanity; but an essential and
distinctive characteristic of the puma is his love for the human
being - a love persistent, devoted, and long-suffering.
Between such an animal and Clare, it is not surprising that friendship
should at once have blossomed. He stroked the paw of the Indian lion
the first morning, but the day was not over when he was stroking the
cheek of the puma; while all he could do with the grizzly at the end
of the month was to feed him a little on the sly, and get for thanks a
growl of the worse hate. There are men that would soonest tear their
benefactors, loathing them the more that they cannot get at them. I
suspect that in some mysterious way Glum Gunn and the bear were own
brothers. With the elephant Clare did what he pleased - never pleasing
anything that was not pleasing to the elephant.
They came to a town where they exhibited every day for a week, and
there it was that the friendship of Clare and the puma reached its
perfection. One night the boy could not sleep, and drawn by his love,
went down among the cages to see how his fellow-creatures were getting
through the time of darkness. There was just light enough from a small
moon to show the dim outlines of the cages, and the motion without the
form of any moving animal. The puma, in his solitary yet joyous
gymnastics, was celebrating the rites of freedom according to his
custom. When Clare entered, he made a peculiar purring noise, and
ceased his amusement - a game at ball, with himself for the ball. Clare
went to him, and began as usual to stroke him on the face and nose;
whereupon the puma began to lick his hand with his dry rough
tongue. Clare wondered how it could be nice to have such a dry thing
always in his mouth, but did not pity him for what God had given
him. He had his arm through between the bars of the cage, and his face
pressed close against them, when suddenly the face of the animal was
rubbing itself against what it could reach of his. The end was, that
Clare drew aside the bolt of the cage-door, and got in beside the
puma. The creature's gladness was even greater than if he had found a
friend of his own kind. Noses and cheeks and heads were rubbed
together; tongue licked, and hand stroked and scratched. Then they
began to frolic, and played a long time, the puma jumping over Clare,
and Clare, afraid to jump lest he should make a noise, tumbling over
the puma. The boy at length went fast asleep; and in the morning found
the creature lying with his head across his body, wide awake but
motionless, as if guarding him from disturbance. Nobody was stirring;
and Clare, who would not have their friendship exposed to every
comment, crept quietly from the cage, and went to his own bed.
The next night, as soon as the place was quiet, Clare went down, and
had another game with the puma. Before their sport was over, he had
begun to teach him some of the tricks he had taught Abdiel; but he
could not do much for fear of making a noise and alarming some keeper.
The same thing took place, as often as it was possible, for some
weeks, and Clare came to have as much confidence, in so far at least
as good intention was concerned, in the puma as in Abdiel. If only he
could have him out of the cage, that the dear beast might have a
little taste of old liberty! But not being certain how the puma would
behave to others, or if he could then control him, he felt he had no
right to release him.
Now and then he would fall asleep in the cage, whereupon the puma
would always lie down close beside him. Whether the puma slept, I do
On one such occasion, Clare started to his feet half-awake, roused by
a terrific roar. Right up on end stood the couguar, flattening his
front against the bars of the cage, which he clawed furiously,
snarling and spitting and yelling like the huge cat he was, every
individual hair on end, and his eyes like green lightning. Clatter,
clatter, went his great feet on the iron, as he tore now at this bar
now at that, to get at something out in the dim open space. It was too
dark for Clare to see what it was that thus infuriated him, but his
ear discovered what his eye could not. For now and then, woven into
the mad noise of the wild creature, in which others about him were
beginning to join, he heard the modest whimper of a very tame
one - Abdiel, against whose small person, gladly as he would have been
"naught a while," this huge indignation was levelled. Must there not
be a deeper ground for the enmity of dogs and cats than evil human
incitement? Their antipathy will have to be explained in that history
of animals which I have said must one day be written.
Clare had taken much pains to make Abdiel understand that he was not
to intrude where his presence was not desired - that the show was not
for him, and thought the dog had learned perfectly that never on any
pretence, or for any reason, was he to go down those steps, however
often he saw his master go down. This prohibition was a great trial to
Abdiel's loving heart, but it had not until this night been a trial
too great for his loving will.
When Clare left him, he thought he had taken his usual pains in
shutting him into a small cage he had made to use on such occasions,
lest he might be tempted to think, when he saw nobody about, that the
law no longer applied. But he had not been careful enough; and Abdiel,
sniffing about and finding his door unfastened, had interpreted the
fact as a sign that he might follow his master. Hence all the
coil. For pumas - whereby also must hang an explanation in that book of
zoology, have an intense hatred of dogs. Tame from cubhood, they never
get over their antipathy to them. With pumas it is "Love you, hate
your dog." In the present case there could be no individual jealousy,
of which passion beasts and birds are very capable, for Pummy had
never seen Abby before. There may be in the puma an inborn jealousy of
dogs, as a race more favoured than pumas by the man whom yet they love
perhaps more passionately.
As soon as Clare saw what the matter was, he slipped out of the cage,
and catching up the obnoxious offender - where he stood wagging all
over as if his entire body were but a self-informed tail - sped with
him to his room, and gave him a serious talking-to.
The puma was quiet the moment the dog was out of his sight. Doubtless
he regarded Clare as his champion in distress, and blessed him for the
removal of that which his soul hated. But, alas, mischief was already
afoot! Gunn, waked by the roaring, came flying with his whip, and the
remnants of poor Pummy's excitement were enough to betray him to the
eyes of the tamer of caged animals. Clare would have recognized by the
roar itself the individual in trouble; but Glum Gunn had little
knowledge even of the race. He counted the couguar a coward, because
he showed no resentment. A man may strike him or wound him, and he
will make no retaliation; he will even let a man go on to kill him,
and make no defence beyond moans and tears. But Gunn knew nothing of
these facts; he only knew that this puma would not touch _him_. He was
not aware that if he turned the two into the arena of the show, the
puma would kill the grizzly; or that in their own country, the puma
persecutes the jaguar as if he hated him for not being like himself,
the friend of man: the Gauchos of the Pampas call him "The Christians'
Friend." Gunn did not even know that the horse is the puma's favourite
food: he will leap on the back of a horse at full speed, with his paws
break his neck as he runs, and come down with him in a rolling
heap. Neither did he know that, while submissive to man - as if the
maker of both had said to him, "Slay my other creatures, but do my
anointed no harm," - he could yet upon occasion be provoked to punish
though not to kill him.
Glum Gunn rushed across the area, jumped into the cage of the puma,
and began belabouring him with his whip. The beast whimpered and wept,
and the brute belaboured him. Clare heard the changed cry of his
friend, and came swooping like the guardian angel he was. When he saw
the patient creature on his haunches like a dog, accepting Gunn's
brutality without an attempt to escape it - except, indeed, by dodging
any blows at his head so cleverly that the ruffian could not once hit
it - he bounded to the cage, wild with anger and pity. But Gunn stood
with his back against the door of it, and he was reduced to entreaty.
"Oh, sir! sir!" he cried, in a voice full of tears; "it was all my
fault! Abby came to look for me, and I didn't know Pummy disliked
"Do you tell me, you rascal, that you were down among the hanimals
when I supposed you in your bed?"
"Yes, sir, I was. I didn't know there was any harm. I wasn't doing
"Hold your jaw! What _was_ you doing?"
"I was only in the cage with the puma."
"You was! You have the impudence to tell me that to my face! I'll
teach you, you cotton-face! you milk-pudding! to go corrupting the
hanimals and making them not worth their salt!"
He swung himself out of the cage-door in a fury, but Clare, with his
friend in danger, would not run. The wretch seized him by the collar,
and began to lash him as he had been lashing the puma. Happily he was
too close to him to give him such stinging blows.
With the first hiss of the thong, came a tearing screech from the
puma, as he flung himself in fury upon the door of his cage. Gunn in
his wrath with Clare had forgotten to bolt it. Dragging with his
claws, he found it unfastened, pulled it open, and like a huge shell
from a mortar, shot himself at Gunn. Down he went. For one moment the
puma stood over him, swinging his tail in great sweeps, and looking at
him, doubtless with indignation. Then before Clare could lay hold of
him, for Clare too had fallen by the onset, Pummy turned a scornful
back upon his enemy, and walking away with a slow, careless stride, as
if he were not worth thinking of more, leaped into his cage, and lay
down. The thing passed so swiftly that Clare did not see him touch the
man with his paw, and thought he had but thrown him down with his
weight. The beast, however, had not left the brute without the lesson
he needed; he had given him just one little pat on the side of the
Gunn rose staggering. The skin and something more was torn down his
cheek from the temple almost to the chin, and the blood was
streaming. Clare hastened to help him, but he flung him aside,
muttering with an oath, "I'll make you pay for this!" and went out,
holding his head with both hands.
Clare went and shot the bolt of the cage. Pummy sprang up. His tail
and swift-shifting feet showed eager expectation of a romp. He had
already forgotten the curling lash of the terrible whip! But Clare
bade him good-night with a kiss through the bars.
Glum Gunn kept his bed for more than a week. When at length he
appeared, a demonstration of the best art of the surgeon of the town,
he was not beautiful to look upon. To the end of his evil earthly days
he bore an ugly scar; and neither his heart nor his temper were the
better for his well deserved punishment.
Mrs. Halliwell questioned Clare about the whole thing, inquiring
further and further as his answers suggested new directions. Her
catechism ended with a partial discovery of Gunn's behaviour to her
_proteg√©_, whom she loved the more that he had been so silent
concerning it. She stood perturbed. One moment her face flushed with
anger, the next turned pale with apprehension. She bit her lip, and
the tears came in her eyes.
"Never mind, mother," said Clare, who saw no reason for such emotion;
"I'm not afraid of him."
"I know you're not, sonny," she answered; "but that don't make me the
less afraid for you. He's a bad man, that brother-in-law of mine! I
fear he'll do you a mischief. I'm afraid I did wrong in taking you! I
ought to have done what I could for you without keeping you about
me. We can't get rid of him because he's got money in the business.
Not that he's part owner - I don't mean that! If we'd got the money
handy, we'd pay him off at once!"
"I don't care about myself," said Clare. "I don't mean I like to be
kicked, but it don't make me miserable. What I can't bear is to see
him cruel to the beasts. I love the beasts, mother - even cross old
Grizzly. - But Mr. Gunn don't meddle much with _him_!"
"He respects his own ugly sort!" answered Mrs. Halliwell, with a
For a while it was plain to Clare that the master kept an eye on his
brother, and on himself and the puma. On one occasion he told the
assembled staff that he would have no tyranny: every one knew there
was among them but one tyrant. Gunn saw that his brother was awake and