Page images
PDF
EPUB

venison was hanging. Near the top of the hut a small aperture was left in the gable, for the purpose of admitting light and air.

This aperture was so high that when the settlers, a man and his wife, left the hut, they did not think that there was any necessity for closing it. A hungry jaguar happened to come by, and sniffed out the meat. So he contrived to scramble up the end of the hut, and to jump in at the aperture. He then made his way to the venison, and commenced making a repast on it. The return of the owners disturbed him, and he took his departure. The man, discovering what had happened, took away the venison, imagining that, as the cause of the visitation was removed, the jaguar would not trouble himself to come back. That night he was obliged to leave that part of the country, and go to a distance, leaving his wife to take care of the hut. The man was mistaken in his supposition that when the venison was gone the jaguar would not enter the house, for when evening came, the jaguar came too, and scrambled in at the open gable as before. The poor woman was, of course, in a great fright, as she had no means of protecting herself. At last, by screaming with all her might, and making every noise she could think of, she succeeded in frightening the animal away for a time, but knowing well that he would come again soon, she searched for some method of protection. Just as she heard the jaguar again climbing up the house, she bethought herself of a great storechest, fastening with a spring, into which she got, and pulled down the lid, keeping her fingers between the lid and the side of the chest, lest she should be suffocated for want of air.

Very soon the jaguar came into the room, and before long discovered her hiding-place. He tried to push his head into the chest, but could not raise the lid, nor could his paws obtain entrance. Presently he discovered her fingers, and began to lick them with his rough tongue. They soon began to bleed, but she dared not move them lest the spring-lock of the chest should close. Not being able to do any good at the side of the box, he jumped upon the lid, and by the weight broke the poor woman's fingers. For a long time he continued these efforts, smelling round the chest, trying to force it open, licking the protruding fingers, and leaping on and off; but at last, finding all his endeavours useless, he went away. His intended victim dared not leave the chest until daybreak, when she ran as fast as she could to her nearest neighbours, where she procured help. On her husband's return, he searched for the jaguar, and found a pair, together with their cubs, in the forest, close to the house, and destroyed them all.

Wood Anecdotes of Animal Life.

Menagerie, wild-beast show.
Vehicle, conveyance.
Barricading, fencing with barricades, or railings, fc.
Eventually, at last, ultimately.

THE LION AND THE MAIL-COACH. In the year 1816, the horses which were dragging the Exeter mail-coach were attacked in a most furious manner by a lioness which had escaped from a travelling menagerie.

At the moment when the coachman pulled up to deliver his bags from one of the stages, a few miles from the town of Salisbury, one of the leading horses was suddenly seized by a ferocious animal. This, of course, produced great confusion and alarm. The horse kicked and plunged violently; and it was with difficulty the driver could prevent the vehicle from being overturned. The light of the lamps soon enabled the guard to discover that the animal which had seized the horse was a huge lioness. A large mastiff came up, and attacked her fiercely, on which she quitted the horse, and turned upon him. The dog fled, but was pursued and killed by the lioness before it had run forty yards from the place.

It appeared that the ferocious animal had escaped from a menagerie on its way to Salisbury fair. The alarm being given, the keepers pursued and hunted the lioness, carrying the dog in her teeth, into a hovel under a granary, which served for keeping agricultural implements. They soon secured her effectually by barricading the place so as to prevent her escape. The horse, when first attacked, fought with great spirit; and, if he had been at liberty, would probably have beaten down his antagonist with his fore feet; but in plunging he entangled himself in the harness. The lioness, it appears, attacked him in front, and, springing at his throat, had fastened the claws of her fore-feet on each side of his gullet, close to the head, while those of her hind-feet were forced into his chest. In this situation she hung, while the blood streamed from the wounds as if a vein had been opened by a lancet.

The horse was so dreadfully torn that he was not at first expected to survive. His groans of agony were most piteous and affecting. For a considerable time after the lioness had entered the hovel, she continued roaring in a dreadful manner, so loud, indeed, that she was distinctly heard at a distance of half a mile. She was eventually secured, and led back in triumph to her cell.

Bingley's Stories.

Economically, without waste, cheaply.
Blemish, fault.
Advantageous, good, profitable.
Calling, trade or profession, vocation.

Denunciation, loudly-expressed threats. THE ROBBER-HORSE AND THE LAWYER. ABOUT the middle of last century a Scottish lawyer had occasion to visit the metropolis. At that period such journeys were usually performed on horseback, and the traveller might either ride post, or, if willing to travel economically, he bought a horse before setting out, and sold it at the end of his journey. The lawyer had chosen the latter mode of travelling, and sold the animal on which he rode from Scotland as soon as he arrived in London. With a view to his return, he went to Smithfield to purchase a horse. About dusk, a handsome one was offered at so cheap a rate that he suspected the soundness of the animal; but being able to discover no blemish, he became the purchaser.

Next morning he set out on his journey. The horse had excellent paces; and our traveller, while riding over the first few miles, where the road is well frequented, did not fail to congratulate himself on his good fortune, which had led him to make so advantageous a bargain.

They arrived at last at Finchley Common, and, at a place where the road ran down a slight slope and up another, the lawyer met a clergyman driving a one-horse chaise. There was nobody within sight, and the horse, by his conduct, instantly betrayed the profession of his former owner. Instead of pursuing

his journey, he ran close up to the chaise and stopped, having no doubt but his rider would embrace so favorable an opportunity for exercising his calling. The elergyman seemed of the same opinion, produced his purse unasked, and assured the astonished lawyer that it was quite unnecessary to draw bis pistol, as he did not intend to offer any resistance. The traveller rallied his horse, and with many apologies to the gentleman he had so innocently and unwillingly affrighted, pursued his journey.

They had not proceeded far till the horse again inade the same suspicious approach to a coach, from the window of which a blunderbuss was levelled, with denunciations of death and destruction to the hapless and perplexed rider. In short, after his life had been several times endangered by the suspicions to which the conduct of his horse gave rise, and his liberty as often threatened by the police officers, who were disposed to apprehend him as the notorious highwayman who had been the former owner of the horse, he was obliged to part with the well-trained, but ill-bred animal at a low price, and to purchase for a high sum one less beautiful, but not accustomed to such dangerous habits.

Bingley's Stories.

Lagoon, marshy or shallow lake.
Distanced, got further from.
Suppressed, smothered, silent.
Crafty, cunning.

A SAVAGE CHASE. In order to get full benefit of the land-breeze we kept well over to the seaward or eastern side of the lagoon. I had seen some palm-trees on the same side of the lagoon, and these usually are a sign of a village; so I kept a sharp look-out, and hoped to slip by without being noticed.

It was not until we were abreast of the palms that I saw signs of human dwellings; and just at that moment noticed a large number of canoes drawn up in a little bay, and through a narrow opening I saw a collection of huts. Several of the natives were moving about among the canoes.

I observed also that our boat had roused their attention, and that a number of men were hurrying down to the shore. I was in hopes that they would be content with looking at us from a distance. I was therefore troubled when I saw two large boats push from the landing. We did not stop to consider, but shook out every thread of our little sail. Each also taking a paddle, we set to work with a will to give our pursuers as pretty a chase as ever came off on the Mosquito shore. It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and I felt sure that we could not be overtaken before night, and then it would be easy to elude them.

Our pursuers had no sails, but their boats were larger, and well manned by men that were more used to the paddle than either Antonio or myself. While the wind lasted we rather distanced them, but as the sun went down the breeze lessened, and thus our sail became useless. We were obliged to take it in and trust cur paddles alone. This gave our pursuers new courage, and I could hear their shouts echoed back from the shores.

When night fell they had shortened their distance to less than half what it had been at the outset, and were so near that we could alrnost make out their words. The lagoon narrowed more and more, and was evidently getting to be as straight as the channel by which we had entered. This was against us; for, although we had almost lost sight of our pursuers in the gathering darkness, our safety lay entirely on our slipping unseen into some narrow creek. But we strained our eyes in vain to find such a retreat. The mangroves presented one dark unbroken front.

I now saw clearly, that in spite of all our efforts to avoid it, we would be obliged to fight. I laid aside my paddle and got out my gun.

Our enemies were so near that I was on tlie point of sending a random shot at them, when, with a suppressed exclamation of joy, Antonio suddenly turned our canoe into a narrow creek, where the mangroves separated, like walls, on either side. Where we entered it was scarcely twenty feet wide, and soon narrowed to ten or twelve. We glided in rapidly for perhaps two hundred yards, when Antonio stopped to listen. I heard nothing and gave the word to proceed. But the crafty Indian said “No;” and carefully leaning over the edge of the boat, plunged his head in the water. He held it there a few seconds, then started up exclaiming, “They are coming!” Again we

« PreviousContinue »