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- True Stories About Dogs and Cats - 5/7 -
pleasant thoughts before we finish our twilight talk."
"The poet Cowper was a great friend to animals. Many of his most beautiful letters to his friends have very pleasant passages about his pretty tortoise shell kitten, and his distress that she would grow up into a cat, do what he would."
"He was a lover of tame rabbits and hares, and speaks of all these animals as if they were his friends and fellow-creatures. In one of his little poems he tells a pretty story of his spaniel Beau. I was so pleased with it that I learned it by heart unconsciously, from reading it over so often."
"Do repeat it, Mother," cried both the boys.
Mrs. Chilton then repeated the poem; and, as some of my young readers may not be familiar with it, they shall have a copy, too.
"This, also, boys, is a true story," said their mother.
THE DOG AND THE WATER LILY.
The noon was shady, and soft airs Swept Ouse's silent tide, When, 'scaped from literary cares, I wandered on his side.
My spaniel--prettiest of his race, And high in pedigree-- (Two nymphs adorned with every grace, That spaniel found for me--)
Now wantoned, lost in flowery reeds, Now, starting into sight, Pursued the swallow o'er the meads, With scarce a slower flight.
It was the time when Ouse displayed His lilies newly blown. Their beauties I intent surveyed, And one I wished my own.
With cane extended far, I sought To steer it close to land; But still the prize, though nearly caught, Escaped my eager hand.
Beau marked my unsuccessful pains, With fixed, considerate face; And, puzzling, set his puppy brains To comprehend the case.
But, with a chirrup clear and strong Dispersing all his dream, I thence withdrew, and followed long The windings of the stream.
My ramble finished, I returned; Beau, trotting far before, The floating wreath again discerned, And, plunging, left the shore.
I saw him with that lily cropped Impatient swim to meet My quick approach; and soon he dropped The treasure at my feet.
Charmed with the sight, "The world," I cried, "Shall hear of this thy deed. My dog shall mortify the pride Of man's superior breed."
But, chief, myself I will enjoin, Awake at duty's call, To show a love as prompt as thine To Him who gives me all.
"I think that's a right pretty story, Mother," said Frank, when his mother had finished reciting it; "but will you tell me what 'high in pedigree' means; for I'm sure I don't know. I never heard the word before; and who are nymphs, who found the spaniel for Cowper?"
"'High in pedigree,' Frank, means nothing but that he had a very respectable grandfather and mother."
"Then, Mother, we are high in pedigree; for I'm sure that grandfather and grandmother--, at the farm, are the very best and most respectable people in the world, and send us the best butter and cheese. But what are nymphs?"
"There was, in olden times, Frank, before the birth of Christ, and among many people since there is a belief in a sort of fairies, or fanciful existences. They thought that in each stream, and wood, and grotto lived a beautiful young woman, invisible to common eyes, and these lovely fairies were called nymphs. So it became common to call any beautiful young woman a nymph."
"The best line in it," said Harry, "is, 'And, puzzling, set his puppy brains.' That I can quite understand."
"Now," said Mrs. Chilton, "it is time to light the candles, and for little boys to go to bed."
"I have still a little more to say to you about animals," said Mrs. Chilton, one evening, to her two boys, "as you seemed pleased with what I told you, some time ago, about dogs and cats."
A friend told me, the other day, that, when she was at Hopkinton, where she went for the benefit of the baths, the mistress of the hotel told her that their cat understood language; for that a gentleman, who was there and was going fishing, told the cat to go and catch him a frog. The cat disappeared, and, a little while after, brought in a frog. She added, that the next day he told the cat again to go and catch him a frog. The cat again set off on the same errand, and brought in two frogs; but she had bitten off the head of one of them, as if to pay for her labor."
"Do you believe that story, Puss?" said Harry. "See, Puss shakes her head. Do you believe it, Mother?"
The authority was very good. I could not easily disbelieve it. The more we notice animals the more we shall be astonished at them, and interested in their history; the more we shall see in them evidences of the wisdom and the goodness of the Power that created them.
I knew a good, great man who would never tread upon the meanest flower he met in his walks; who would not wantonly destroy a shell upon the sea shore.
When I was very young, I was walking in a garden with one of the true lovers of God in His works: suddenly he bent his head very low, and bade me bend mine also. "See," he said, "that beautiful web: do not break it; the little creature who made it has worked very hard; let us not destroy it."
This lesson was given many years ago. I have forgotten many things since then; but this will last me through life, let it be ever so long.
Who does not love good Uncle Toby who, when a troublesome fly tormented and tickled his nose and sipped his wine, put him tenderly out of the window, saying to him, "Go: there is room enough in this world for thee and me"? But to my stories. One is a sad one, but it is true, as are also all the others.
A gentleman was once travelling in France, on horseback, followed by his dog; presently the dog began to show great uneasiness, and run and jump up at him and bark violently. The man saw no one near, and could not understand what was the matter.
The dog persisted in barking. At last, the man scolded him. This did no good. The dog still barked and jumped up trying to get hold of his master's legs; the man scolded the animal repeatedly, but all in vain. The dog barked louder and louder. At last, the man struck him with the butt-end of the whip harder than he intended; for he only wished to silence the dog.
The thoughtless man went on satisfied. After a while, he found that he had lost his purse. He went back some miles, till, at last, he saw his dog lying dead in the road with one paw over a purse.
The poor creature had staggered back to the place where he had seen it fall, and, faithful to the last in spite of his master's cruelty, even in death, guarded his property.
A knowledge of character, comprehension of language, or some other faculty, beyond what we can explain, is often discovered in dogs.
There was a family who had given leave to two poor men to come and saw wood, do chores, &c. One of these was very honest; the other often took what did not belong to him.
The family dog took no especial notice of the honest man, and treated him in a friendly way, but the thief he watched all the time, to guard the property of the family.
Another dog was on board a vessel bound to some place in Europe. The vessel was driven in a storm against a rocky coast, and struck under a steep, perpendicular cliff perfectly inaccessible. It was evident that if relief was not soon given, the vessel must go to pieces, and the men all perish.
The dog leaped into the angry sea, and with some difficulty swam ashore. He ran on till he came to the dwelling of a poor man, and then barked loudly, till the owner was roused and came out.
The dog showed great joy at seeing him, ran towards the shore and then back to him, and leaped upon him and licked his hands; this he did repeatedly till the man followed him.
It was some distance to the shore; and, after a while, the man was tired, thought it was foolish to go after the dog, and turned to go home. The dog immediately showed great distress, and tried the same arts to entice him on; but the man seemed resolved to go home.
At last, the dog stood upon his hind legs, put his paws upon the
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