When you see Puss seated by the fireside, blinking her eyes, and looking very wise, you may often ask, “I wonder what she can be thinking about.” Just then, probably, she is thinking about nothing at all; but if you were to turn her out of doors into the cold, and shut the door in her face, she would instantly begin to think, “How can I best get in again?” And she would run round and round the house, trying to find a door or window open by which she might re-enter it.
I once heard of a cat which exerted a considerable amount of reason under these very circumstances. The house is situated in the country, and there is a door with a small porch opening on a flower-garden. Very often when this door was shut, little Deb was left outside; and on such occasions she used to mew as loudly as she could to beg for admittance. Occasionally she was not heard; but instead of running away, and trying to find some other home, she used patiently to ensconce herself in a corner of the window-sill, and wait till some person came to the house, who, on knocking at the door, found immediate attention. Many a day, no doubt, little Deb sat there on the window-sill and watched this proceeding, gazing at the knocker, and wondering what it had to do with getting the door open.
A month passed away, and little Deb grew from a kitten into a full-sized cat. Many a weary hour was passed in her corner. At length Deb arrived at the conclusion that if she could manage to make the knocker sound a rap-a-tap-tap on the door, the noise would summon the servant, and she would gain admittance as well as the guests who came to the house.
One day Deb had been shut out, when Mary, the maidservant, who was sitting industriously stitching away, heard a rap-a-tap at the front door, announcing the arrival, as she supposed, of a visitor. Putting down her work, she hurried to the door and lifted the latch; but no one was there except Deb, who at that moment leaped off the window-sill and entered the house. Mary looked along the road, up and down on either side, thinking that some person must have knocked and gone away; but no one was in sight.
The following day the same thing happened, but it occurred several times before any one suspected that Deb could possibly have lifted the knocker. At length Mary told her mistress what she suspected, and one of the family hid in the shrubbery to watch Deb’s proceedings. Deb was allowed to run out in the garden, and the door was closed. After a time the little creature was seen to climb up on the window-sill, and then to rear herself on her hind-feet, in an oblique position at the full stretch of her body, when, steadying herself with one front paw, with the other she raised the knocker; and Mary, who was on the watch, instantly ran to the door and let her in.
Deb’s knock now became as well-known to the servant as that of any other member of the family, and, no doubt to her great satisfaction, it usually met with prompt attention.
A lady in France possessed a cat which exhibited great affection for her. She accompanied her everywhere, and when she sat down always lay at her feet. From no other hands than those of her mistress would she take food, nor would she allow any one else to fondle her.
The lady kept a number of tame birds; but the cat, though she would willingly have caught and eaten strange birds, never injured one of them.
At last the lady fell ill, when nothing could induce the cat to leave her chamber; and on her death, the attendants had to carry away the poor animal by force. The next morning, however, she was found in the room of death, creeping slowly about, and mewing piteously. After the funeral, the faithful cat made her escape from the house, and was at length discovered stretched out lifeless above the grave of her mistress, having evidently died of a broken heart.
I have an instance of a still stranger friendship to mention. The servants of a country-house—and I am sure that they were kind people—had enticed a frog from its hole by giving it food. As winter drew on, Froggy every evening made its way to the kitchen hearth before a blazing fire, which it found much more comfortable than its own dark abode out in the yard. Another occupant of the hearth was a favourite old cat, which at first, I daresay, looked down on the odd little creature with some contempt, but was too well bred to disturb an invited guest. At length, however, the two came to a mutual understanding; the kind heart of Puss warming towards poor chilly little Froggy, whom she now invited to come and nestle under her cozy fur. From that time forward, as soon as Froggy came out of its hole, it hopped fearlessly towards the old cat, who constituted herself its protector, and would allow no one to disturb it.
Affection for one of the feathered race was shown by a cat which was rearing several kittens.
In another part of the loft a pigeon had built her nest; but her eggs and young having been frequently destroyed by rats, it seemed to occur to her that she should be in safer quarters near the cat. Puss, pleased with the confidence placed in her, invited the pigeon to remain near her, and a strong friendship was established between the two. They fed out of the same dish; and when Puss was absent, the pigeon, in return for the protection afforded her against the rats, constituted herself the defender of the kittens—and on any person approaching nearer than she liked, she would fly out and attack them with beak and wings, in the hope of driving them away from her young charges. Frequently, too, after this, when neither the kittens nor her own brood required her care, and the cat went out about the garden or fields, the pigeon might be seen fluttering close by her, for the sake of her society.
The monarch of the Arctic regions, the monstrous white bear there reigns supreme. Savage and ferocious as is his consort, as well as he, she shows the utmost affection for her young. I have a sad tale to tell.
The crew of an exploring vessel in the Arctic Seas had killed a walrus, and set fire to part of the blubber. The steam of the flesh drew from afar towards it a she bear and her two cubs. Putting their noses to the tempting mess, they began to eat it eagerly. The seamen, seeing this, threw other pieces on the ice nearer to the ship. The bear incautiously approached, carrying off the pieces, which she bestowed on her cubs, and, though evidently famished, taking but a small portion herself. The thoughtless sailors shot the two cubs, and again firing, wounded the mother. Though she herself was barely able to crawl to the spot where they lay, she carried to them the last lump of blubber, endeavouring to make them eat it. Discovering that they were unable to do so, she endeavoured to raise first one, and then the other; but in vain. She now began to retreat; but her motherly feelings overcoming her, though conscious of the danger she was running, she returned to where they lay, moaning mournfully. Several times did she thus behave, when, seemingly convinced that her young ones were cold and helpless, she cast a reproachful glance towards the vessel whence the cruel bullets had proceeded, and uttered a low growl of angry despair which might have moved the hearts even of the most callous. A shower of musket bullets, however, laid her low between her two cubs, and she died licking their wounds.
Cart-horses, though heavy-looking animals, are more sagacious that their more gracefully formed relatives.
A cart-horse had been driven from a farmyard to the neighbouring brook early one morning during winter to drink. The water was frozen over, and the horse stamped away with his fore-feet, but was unable to break the ice. Finding this, he waited till a companion came down, when the two, standing side by side, and causing their hoofs to descend together, broke through the ice, and were thus enabled to obtain the water they required.
It is seldom that an elephant can be induced to pass over ground he considers unsafe. Sometimes, however, a driver obtains such a mastery over a timid animal, that he compels him to undertake what his better sense would induce him to decline.
An elephant of this character was owned by a person residing in the neighbourhood of Gyah. Between the house and the town was a small bridge, over which the elephant had frequently passed. One day, however, he refused to go over. He tried it with his trunk, evidently suspecting that its strength was not sufficient to bear his weight. Still, the obstinate driver urged him on with the sharp spear with which elephants are driven. At length, with cautious steps he began the passage, still showing an extreme unwillingness to proceed. As he approached the centre, loud cracks were heard, when the treacherous bridge gave way, and both elephant and rider were precipitated into the stream below; the latter being killed by the fall, and the former, who had proved himself the most sensible being of the two, being much injured.
While the British troops were besieging Bhurtpore in India, the water in the ponds and tanks in the neighbourhood becoming exhausted, it could only be obtained from deep and large wells. In this service elephants were especially useful.
One day two of these animals,—one of them large and strong, the other much smaller,—came together to a well. The smaller elephant carried by his trunk a bucket, which the larger, not having one, stole from him. The smaller animal knew that he could not wrest it from the other, but he eyed him, watching for an opportunity of avenging himself. The larger elephant now approached the edge of the well, when the smaller one, rushing forward with all his might, pushed him fairly into the water.
Ludicrous as was the scene, the consequences might have been disastrous. Should the huge animal not be got out, the water would be spoiled; at all events, his floundering about would make it very muddy. The elephant, however, seemed in no way disconcerted, and kept floating at his ease, enjoying the cool liquid, and exhibiting no wish to come out of it. At length a number of fascines used in the siege were brought, and these being lowered into the well, the elephant was induced by his driver to place them under his feet. In this way a pile was raised sufficiently high to enable him to stand upon it. But, being unwilling to leave the water, he after a time would allow no more fascines to be lowered; and his driver had to caress him, and promise him plenty of arrack as a reward, to induce him to raise himself out of the water. Thus incited, the elephant permitted more fascines to be thrown in; and at length, after some masonry was removed from the margin of the well, he was able to step out—the whole operation having occupied fourteen hours.
You will probably smile at the conduct of the two huge creatures. It was curiously like that of human beings. A big boy plays a smaller one a trick—snatches something from him. The other retaliates. An uproar is raised, and often serious inconvenience follows. These two elephants behaved just like two ill-tempered boys; and through them a whole army was doomed to suffer for many hours the pangs of thirst. Remember the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.”
Cart collecting dead bodies during the plague
The Street stall
Two girls walking in the country
Two girls knitting and reading
Two children watching for mother
Young boy standing on the street corner
Young Lady in the storm
Lady and boy
Lady praying beside a bed with a man in it
Lady sitting by the side of a man in bed
Young boy looking after his sick mother
A sheep taking in the view
Boy walking in the countryside
A young man and his mother walking to church