The Junior Classics.
Selected and arranged by William Patten.
Animal and Nature Stories
LITTLE CYCLONE: THE STORY OF A GRIZZLY CUB
By W. T. Hornaday
Little Cyclone is a grizzly cub from Alaska, who earned his name by the vigor of his resistance to ill treatment. When his mother was fired at, on a timbered hillside facing Chilkat River, he and his brother ran away as fast as their stumpy little legs could carry them. When they crept where they had last seen her, they thought her asleep; and cuddling up close against her yet warm body they slept peacefully until morning.
Before the early morning sun had reached their side of the mountains, the two orphans were awakened by the rough grasp of human hands. Valiantly they bit and scratched, and bawled aloud with rage. One of them made a fight so fierce and terrible that his nervous captor let him go, and that one is still on the Chilkoot.
Although the other cub fought just as desperately, his captor seized him by the hind legs, dragged him backwards, occasionally swung him around his head, and kept him generally engaged until ropes were procured for binding him. When finally established, with collar, chain and post, in the rear of the saloon in Porcupine City, two-legged animals less intelligent than himself frequently and violently prodded the little grizzly with a long pole "to see him fight." Barely in time to save him from insanity, little Cyclone was rescued by the friendly hands of the Zoological Society's field agent, placed in a comfortable box, freed from all annoyance, and shipped to New York.
He was at that time as droll and roguish-looking a grizzly cub as ever stepped. In a grizzly-gray full moon of fluffy hair, two big black eyes sparkled like jet beads, behind a pudgy little nose, absurdly short for a bear. Excepting for his high shoulders, he was little more than a big bale of gray fur set up on four posts of the same material. But his claws were formidable, and he had the true grizzly spirit.
The Bears' Nursery at the New York Zoological Park is a big yard with a shade tree, a tree to climb, a swimming pool, three sleeping dens, and a rock cliff. It never contains fewer than six cubs, and sometimes eight.
Naturally, it is a good test of courage and temper to turn a new bear into that roystering crowd. Usually a newcomer is badly scared during his first day in the Nursery, and very timid during the next. But grizzlies are different. They are born full of courage and devoid of all sense of fear.
When little Cyclone's travelling box was opened, and he found himself free in the Nursery, he stalked deliberately to the centre of the stage, halted, and calmly looked about him. His air and manner said as plainly as English: "I'm a grizzly from Alaska, and I've come to stay. If any of you fellows think there is anything coming to you from me, come and take it."
Little Czar, a very saucy but good-natured European brown bear cub, walked up and aimed a sample blow at Cyclone's left ear. Quick as a flash out shot Cyclone's right paw, as only a grizzly can strike, and caught the would-be hazer on the side of the head. Amazed and confounded, Czar fled in wild haste. Next in order, a black bear cub, twice the size of Cyclone, made a pass at the newcomer, and he too received so fierce a countercharge that he ignominiously quitted the field and scrambled to the top of the cliff.
Cyclone conscientiously met every attack, real or feigned, that was made upon him. In less than an hour it was understood by every bear in the Nursery that that queer-looking gray fellow with the broad head and short nose could strike quick and hard, and that he could fight any other bear on three seconds' notice.
From that time on Cyclone's position has been assured. He is treated with the respect that a good forearm inspires, but being really a fine-spirited, dignified little grizzly, he attacks no one, and never has had a fight.
SOME TRUE STORIES OF TIGERS, WOLVES, FOXES AND BEARS
By W. H. G. Kingston
On one of her voyages from China, the Pitt, East Indiaman, had on board, among her passengers, a young tiger. He appeared to be as harmless and playful as a kitten, and allowed the utmost familiarity from every one. He was especially fond of creeping into the sailors' hammocks; and while he lay stretched on the deck, he would suffer two or three of them to place their heads on his back, as upon a pillow. Now and then, however, he would at dinner-time run off with pieces of their meat; and though sometimes severely punished for the theft, he bore the chastisement he received with the patience of a dog. His chief companion was a terrier, with whom he would play all sorts of tricks--tumbling and rolling over the animal in the most amusing manner, without hurting it. He would also frequently run out on the bowsprit, and climb about the rigging with the agility of a cat.
On his arrival in England, he was sent to the menagerie at the Tower. While there, another terrier was introduced into his den.
Possibly he may have mistaken it for his old friend, for he immediately became attached to the dog, and appeared uneasy whenever it was taken away. Now and then the dangerous experiment was tried of allowing the terrier to remain while the tiger was fed. Presuming on their friendship, the dog occasionally ventured to approach him; but the tiger showed his true nature on such occasions by snarling in a way which made the little animal quickly retreat.
He had been in England two years, when one of the seamen of the _Pitt_ came to the Tower. The animal at once recognized his old friend, and appeared so delighted, that the sailor begged to be allowed to go into the den. The tiger, on this, rubbed himself against him, licked his hands, and fawned on him as a cat would have done. The sailor remained in the den for a couple of hours or more, during which time the tiger kept so close to him, that it was evident he would have some difficulty in getting out again, without the animal making his escape at the same time. The den consisted of two compartments. At last the keeper contrived to entice the tiger to the inner one, when he closed the slide, and the seaman was liberated.
Even a wolf, savage as that animal is, may, if caught young, and treated kindly, become tame.
A story is told of a wolf which showed a considerable amount of affection for its master. He had brought it up from a puppy, and it became as tame as the best-trained dog, obeying him in everything.
Having frequently to leave home, and not being able to take the wolf with him, he sent it to a menagerie, where he knew it would be carefully looked after. At first the wolf was very unhappy, and evidently pined for its absent master. At length, resigning itself to its fate, it made friends with its keepers, and recovered its spirits.
Fully eighteen months had passed by, when its old master, returning home, paid a visit to the menagerie. Immediately he spoke, the wolf recognized his voice, and made strenuous efforts to get free. On being set at liberty it sprang forward, and leaped up and caressed him like a dog. Its master, however, left it with its keepers, and three years passed away before he paid another visit to the menagerie. Notwithstanding this lapse of time, the wolf again recognized him, and exhibited the same marks of affection.
On its master again going away, the wolf became gloomy and desponding, and refused its food, so that fears were entertained for its life.
It recovered its health, however, and though it suffered its keepers to approach, exhibited the savage disposition of its tribe towards all strangers.
The history of this wolf shows you that the fiercest tempers may be calmed by gentleness.
Arrant thieves as foxes are, with regard to their domestic virtues they eminently shine. Both parents take the greatest interest in rearing and educating their offspring. They provide, in their burrow, a comfortable nest, lined with feathers, for their new-born cubs. Should either parent perceive in the neighbourhood of their abode the slightest sign of human approach, they immediately carry their young to a spot of greater safety, sometimes many miles away.
They usually set off in the twilight of a fine evening. The papa fox having taken a survey all round, marches first, the young ones march singly, and mamma brings up the rear. On reaching a wall or bank, papa always mounts first, and looks carefully around, rearing himself on his haunches to command a wider view. He then utters a short cry, which the young ones, understanding as "Come along!"
instantly obey. All being safely over, mamma follows, pausing in her turn on the top of the fence, when she makes a careful survey, especially rearward. She then gives a responsive cry, answering to "All right!" and follows the track of the others. Thus the party proceed on their march, repeating the same precautions at each fresh barrier.
When peril approaches, the wary old fox instructs his young ones to escape with turns and doublings on their path, while he himself will stand still on some brow or knoll, where he can both see and be seen. Having thus drawn attention to himself, he will take to flight in a different direction. Occasionally, while the young family are disporting themselves near their home, if peril approach, the parents utter a quick, peculiar cry, commanding the young ones to hurry to earth; knowing that, in case of pursuit, they have neither strength nor speed to secure their escape. They themselves will then take to flight, and seek some distant place of security.
The instruction they afford their young is varied. Sometimes the parents toss bones into the air for the young foxes to catch. If the little one fails to seize it before it falls to the ground, the parent will snap at him in reproof. If he catches it cleverly, papa growls his approval, and tosses it up again. This sport continues for a considerable time.
As I have said, no other animals so carefully educate their young in the way they should go, as does the fox. He is a good husband, an excellent father, capable of friendship, and a very intelligent member of society; but all the while, it must be confessed, an incorrigible rogue and thief.
A gentleman was lying one summer's day under the shelter of some shrubs on the banks of the Tweed, when his attention was attracted by the cries of wild-fowl, accompanied by a great deal of fluttering and splashing. On looking round, he perceived a large brood of ducks, which had been disturbed by the drifting of a fir branch among them. After circling in the air for a little time, they again settled down on their feeding-ground.
Two or three minutes elapsed, when the same event again occurred. A branch drifted down with the stream into the midst of the ducks, and startled them from their repast. Once more they rose upon the wing, clamouring loudly, but when the harmless bough had drifted by, settled themselves down upon the water as before. This occurred so frequently, that at last they scarcely troubled themselves to flutter out of the way, even when about to be touched by the drifting bough.
The gentleman, meantime, marking the regular intervals at which the fir branches succeeded each other in the same track, looked for a cause, and perceived, at length, higher up the bank of the stream, a fox, which, having evidently sent them adrift, was eagerly watching their progress and the effect they produced. Satisfied with the result, cunning Reynard at last selected a larger branch of spruce-fir than usual, and couching himself down on it, set it adrift as he had done the others. The birds, now well trained to indifference, scarcely moved till he was in the midst of them, when, making rapid snaps right and left, he secured two fine young ducks as his prey, and floated forward triumphantly on his raft; while the surviving fowls, clamouring in terror, took to flight, and returned no more to the spot.
A labourer going to his work one morning sight of a fox stretched out at full length under a bush. Believing it to be dead, the man drew it out by the tail, and swung it about to assure himself of the fact. Perceiving no symptoms of life, he then threw it over his shoulder, intending to make a cap of the skin, and ornament his cottage wall with the brush. While the fox hung over one shoulder, his mattock balanced it on the other. The point of the instrument, as he walked along, every now and then struck against the ribs of the fox, which, not so dead as the man supposed, objected to this proceeding, though he did not mind being carried along with his head downward. Losing patience, he gave a sharp snap at that portion of the labourer's body near which his head hung. The man, startled by this sudden attack, threw fox and mattock to the ground, when, turning round, he espied the live animal making off at full speed.
I have still another story to tell about cunning Reynard. Daylight had just broke, when a well-known naturalist, gun in hand, wandering in search of specimens, observed a large fox making his way along the skirts of a plantation. Reynard looked cautiously over the turf-wall into the neighbouring field, longing evidently to get hold of some of the hares feeding in it, well aware that he had little chance of catching one by dint of running. After examining the different gaps in the wall, he fixed on one which seemed to be the most frequented, and laid himself down close to it, in the attitude of a cat watching a mouse-hole. He next scraped small hollow in the ground, to form a kind of screen. Now and then he stopped to listen, or take a cautious peep into the field. This done, he again laid himself down, and remained motionless, except when occasionally his eagerness induced him to reconnoitre the feeding hares.
One by one, as the sun rose, they made their way from the field to the plantation. Several passed, but he moved not, except to crouch still closer to the ground. At length two came directly towards him. The involuntary motion of his ears, though he did not venture to look up, showed that he was aware of their approach. Like lightning, as they were leaping through the gap, Reynard was upon them, and catching one, killed her immediately. He was decamping with his booty, when a rifle-ball put an end to his career.
I must tell you one more story about a fox, and a very interesting little animal it was, though not less cunning than its relatives in warmer regions.
Mr. Hayes, the Arctic explorer, had a beautiful little snow-white fox, which was his companion in his cabin when his vessel was frozen up during the winter. She had been caught in a trap, but soon became tame, and used to sit in his lap during meals, with her delicate paws on the cloth. A plate and fork were provided for her, though she was unable to handle the fork herself; and little bits of raw venison, which she preferred to seasoned food. When she took the morsels into her mouth, her eyes sparkled with delight. She used to wipe her lips, and look up at her master with a _coquetterie_ perfectly irresistible. Sometimes she exhibited much impatience; but a gentle rebuke with a fork on the tip of the nose was sufficient to restore her patience.
When sufficiently tame, she was allowed to run loose in the cabin; but she got into the habit of bounding over the shelves, without much regard for the valuable and perishable articles lying on them.
She soon also found out the bull's-eye overhead, through the cracks round which she could sniff the cool air. Close beneath it she accordingly took up her abode; and thence she used to crawl down when dinner was on the table, getting into her master's lap, and looking up longingly and lovingly into his face, sometimes putting out her little tongue with impatience, and barking, if the beginning of the repast was too long delayed.
To prevent her climbing, she was secured by a slight chain. This she soon managed to break, and once having performed the operation, she did not fail to attempt it again. To do this, she would first draw herself back as far as she could get, and then suddenly dart forward, in the hope of snapping it by the jerk; and though she was thus sent reeling on the floor, she would again pick herself up, panting as if her little heart would break, shake out her disarranged coat, and try once more. When observed, however, she would sit quietly down, cock her head cunningly on one side, follow the chain with her eye along its whole length to its fastening on the floor, walk leisurely to that point, hesitating a moment, and then make another plunge. All this time she would eye her master sharply, and if he moved, she would fall down on the floor at once, and pretend to be asleep.