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STORIES OF ANIMALS.
THE DOGS OF ST. BERNARD.
FAR, up the Great St. Bernard, one of those high mountains of the Alps, which are covered with almost perpetual snow, stands a famous Convent. * There the terrible avalanches often fall into the plains below, and the hollow places of the mountains, with a noise like thunder. These are great masses of snow, which hang so loosely on the sides of the mountains, that the slightest sound, which causes the air to tremble, will make them slip downwards. The traveller is often in fear, lest they should come tumbling down, and bury him in a deep snowy grave. Again, in these mountains, the snow-storms are so thick, that one's eyes get soon blinded, while the passes become so blocked up, that it is almost impossible to find the way.
“Supposing you were taking a journey across the Alps, from Switzerland into Italy, and that such a storm came on, while the night was drawing near, and you were weary with travelling, and nearly perishing with cold; what would
you do ?”
“I would look for the Convent of St. Bernard.”
“Ah! but you are hemmed in with rocks on all sides, and the road every moment is becoming more and more impassable, and by and by every trace of it will disappear.”
* Convent, a religious institution where men, called monks, reside for the purpose of being apart from the world; a monastery. [Also = nunnery, used for females, (nuns) ].
“I should just lie down and die."
would be all the more disposed to do so, because the excessive cold would make you
feel overcome with sleep. The whole of your body would begin to feel numb, as your foot does when you complain that it is asleep, and soon you would be quite unable to go any farther. Well, suppose
that at the
very moment you were about to give all up in despair, you heard the deep baying of a dog, coming nearer and nearer, amid the darkness and snowdrift, would not that be the sweetest sound you ever heard in your life? And how thankful you would be, if, while yet able to hold on for a little, you noticed a couple of large, noble-looking dogs coming up to you--one having a flask of cordial tied to his neck, and the other, carrying a cloak to wrap around you. Would you not for one moment believe that these were the guardian spirits of the mountains, in a brute form?
“ How eagerly you would untie the flask with your trembling hands, and drink! And how gratefully wrap the cloak around you! While the dogs, delighted with their success, and looking up at you with happy intelligence, would place themselves, one on either side, take a piece of the cloak in their teeth, and so pull you along to the convent.
“Or, supposing you had already lain down and could see or hear nothing, the dogs would at once see how matters stood. They would hasten back to fetch the monks, who would speedily accompany them to the spot; carry you to the convent, and have you rubbed and warmed, till the life-blood began to flow again, and you awoke, to know that you were saved.
“ Even were you buried in the snow, these noble animals would know, by their keen sense of smell, exactly where you lay; they would scrape with their feet until your body
was uncovered, and would bark loudly, endeavouring to make themselves heard; and if they did not succeed, would run for human help as fast as possible.
“One dog saved the lives of twenty-two persons, who would have perished without his aid, and he wore a medal round his neck, which was given him in honor of his deeds. I shall tell you the manner in which he met with his death :
66 At the foot of the mountain of St. Bernard is situated the little village of St. Pierre ; and there dwelt, among others, a poor courier, whose business it was to carry letters and messages across the mountain into Piedmont. that part of Italy which lies at the foot of the other side of the Alps. Well, one time, when he was on his way back to his home, it happened that one of the most terrible storms came on which was ever known in these regions. With great difficulty he made his way to the convent, and there the kind monks did all they could to persuade him to remain until the storm had passed away. But the desire of seeing his family overcame all the warnings of prudence. He thought they would make themselves miserable, by imagining that he had perished in the storm; and this indeed was the truth. At that very moment they were wandering about in quest of him, and were toiling up the mountain's steep, slippery sides.
“The poor man's heart told him he must proceed, and the monks spoke to him in vain. All they could do was to furnish him with two guides, attended by two dogs, one of which was the valuable animal I spoke of. But the courier and his family never met. Two avalanches were just then trembling before their fall. A crackling sound was heard ; then a crash like thunder. Courier, wife, children, guides, and dogs — all found a grave under the eternal snows.”
Lessons in Natural History.
SAM, THE PET DOG. A DARK brown retriever*, named Sam, was in the habit of going into a kennel of hounds, who always crowded round and caressed him. When they were in the field exercising, Sam was told to go and amuse them; he then went among them, jumped, and played all sorts of anticst, leaping and tumbling about in the most laughable manner,—they looking amused at him the while.
He went with his master to call upon a lady ; she patted him, asked if he were the celebrated Sam, and, hearing he was, she invited him to stay with her. Sam's owner petted and praised him; told him to be a good dog, and to stay with the lady, until she had given him his breakfast on the following morning. The dog was contented to remain; ate his breakfast in the morning; then, looking up in the lady's face, wagged his tail, left the house, and ran home.
He was in the habit of fetching his master's clothes, and of returning them to their proper places; and he knew their
He sat in a chair at dinner with the family without making any confusion; or dined alone, alternately taking a piece of bread and meat, and then drinking a little milk; and if any one said “Give me a piece, Sam ?” he instantly obeyed.
When all was gone, he cleared away the things. He would fetch his master's horse from the inn, pay the hostler, and ride back upon the saddle. In short, he seemed to understand every thing that was said to him, and he was a model of good nature and obedience.
* Retriever, a variety of dog, trained to fetch dead or wounded game. † Antics, funny, comical, grotesque movements.