صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

out. What was his astonishment on seeing that he remained perfectly still. After a few moments, he walked quietly up the whipmaker's arm, and looked up in his face, as much as to say, “I am a poor innocent rat, and if your wife will lock up all the good things in the cupboard, why, I must eat your nice thongs. Rats must live as well as whipmakers.”

The man then said, “ Tom, I was going to kill you, but now I won't; let us be friends. I'll give you some bread and butter every day if you will not take my thongs and wax, and leave the shopman's breakfast alone. But I am afraid you will come out once too often — there are lots of dogs and cats about who won't be so civil to you."

He then put him down, and Mr. Rat leisurely retired to his hole. For a long time afterwards he found his breakfast regularly placed for him at the mouth of his hole; in return for which he, as in duty bound, became quite tame, running about the shop, and inquisitively turning over everything on the bench at which his protector was at work. He would even accompany him into the stables, when he went to feed the pony ; and pick up the corn as it fell from the manger, keeping, however, a respectful distance from the pony's legs. His chief delight was to bask on the warm window-sill, in the mid-day sun.

This comfortable but unfortunate habit proved his destruction, for one very hot day as he lay taking his nap,

the dog belonging to the bird-shop opposite spied him afar off and instantly dashed at him through the window. The poor rat, who was asleep at the time, awoke, alas ! too late to save his life. The dog caught him, and took him into the road, where a few sharp squeezes and shakings soon finished him.

The fatal deed being done, the murderous dog left his bleeding victim in the dusty road, and, with ears and tail erect, walked away quite proud of his performance.

Curiosities of Nat. Hist.

a

THE RAMBLES OF A RAT : AND HOW HE MADE A

FRIEND.

hardly say

of our

I ALWAYS ate my supper in the warehouse, but I need

that Oddity and I were by no means the only rats who found a living in our home at the expense enemy, man. There were a good many of the species of the large brown Norwegian rat; but we usually kept out of their

way, from a tender regard for our own ears. There was one brown rat, however, whose fame had spread, not only in his own tribe, but in ours.

For quickness of wit, readiness in danger, strength of teeth, and courage in using them, I have never yet met with his equal. Whiskerandos was a hero of a rat. Was it not he who in single combat had met and conquered a young ferret ! an exploit in itself quite sufficient to establish his fame as a warrior. Several scars upon

the neck of Whiskerandos bore witness to this terrible encounter, and many others in which he had been engaged. He had lost one ear, and the other had been terribly torn; so that altogether he had paid for fame at the price of beauty. But he was strong and bold as ever, and his appearance one night in our warehouse created quite a sensation in the assemblage of rats.

He was always accompanied by another brown rat, that seemed to wait upon him, and pay him court, as though, having no merit of his own, Shabby fancied that he could borrow a little from a distinguished companion.

I own that I was afraid of Whiskerandos, and yet he passed without touching me: he was quite above the meanness of hurting a creature merely because he was weaker than himself. But Shabby gave such a savage snap at my ear that I retreated squeaking into the corner. I almost think that

I should have returned the bite, had not his formidable companion been so near; and it was probably this circumstance which gave the mean rat courage thus to attack me without provocation. From what I have heard of boys tormėnting cats, mice, birds, or, indeed, anything that they can easily master, while they pay proper respect to bull-dogs and mastiffs, I have an idea that there are some Shabbys to be found even amongst them.

Well, one evening at supper-time, I chanced to look towards the fatal hole in which my six brothers had been caught, and I saw Whiskerandos and his follower merrily advancing towards it, doubtless attracted by a very enticing scent.

I do not know how man would have behaved in my position. These certainly were no friends of mine ; but then they were rats — my own flesh and blood. I could not see them perish without warning them of their danger.

“Stop! Stop!” squeaked I, keeping, however, at a respectful distance; "you are running right into a trap!"

Whiskerandos turned sharp round and faced me. I retreated several steps.

“Bite him, - fight him, — shake him by the neck !” cried Shabby ;" he knows there is a dainty feast there, and he would keep it all for his ugly black friends ! ”

“You'll pay for your dainty feast if you go one foot farther!" I exclaimed ; feeling, I confess, rather angry.

“ Who's afraid ? " cried the boaster, flinging up his hind legs with a saucy flourish as he scampered on. Snap! he was caught in the trap!

Poor rat! had he possessed the courage and skill of Whiskerandos himself, they would have availed him nothing. His miserable squeaking was louder than that of my six brothers all together. He would not take advice and he found the consequences.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Whiskerandos remained for some moments quite still, looking towards the dismal prison of his companion. He knew too well that it was impossible to rescue him now. Then, with a bound, such as few rats but himself could have made, he sprang to where I was standing. “ Blackie !” he exclaimed," you have saved my life,

and I shall never forget the kindness. Though you are black and I am brown, no matter. Let us be friends to the end of our days ! "

Agreed !” cried I; “let's rub noses upon it;” and noses we accordingly rubbed.

He never flinched from his word, that bold Whiskerandos. I never feared him from that hour; no, not even when I knew that he was hungry, and had tasted no food from morning till night. I knew that no famine would ever induce him to eat up his friend; and many a ramble have we had together, and through many strange paths has he

I ventured even into the haunts of the brown rats, for his presence was a sufficient protection. None would have dared to attack me while he was beside me, I should hardly have been afraid even of a cat.

Play Hours.

led me.

THE WILD CAT.

[ocr errors]

THE wild cat inhabits the woods of mountainous countries, He lives on birds, rabbits, hares, rats, and mice; and creates havoc amongst poultry, lambs, kids, fawns, &c. He is much larger than the common cat. Some have been caught in America which measured, from the nose to the end of the tail, upwards of five feet. His hair is soft and fine; of a pale yellowish color, mixed with grey ; his tail is thick and long; and he is one of the fiercest and most destructive beasts of

prey. A traveller in one of the western states of America relates the following anecdote of one :

“ I was plodding on in a waggon, over a level road, in the hot noon sun of a June day. Some ten yards ahead of me, a wild cat, leading three kittens, came out of the wood, crossed the road, and went into the bushes on my left. I thought what nice pets they would make, and wished I had one.

“When I came up I noticed one of the young ones at the edge of the bushes but a few feet off, and I heard, or thought I heard, the old one stealing along deep in the woods. I sprang out, snatched

up the kitten, threw it into the waggon, jumped in, and started. When I laid hands on it, it mewed and kept mewing, and as I grasped the reins I heard a sharp growl and a crashing through the bush.

“I knew the old one was coming, and the next instant she sprang over the hedge and alighted in the road. She ran with her eyes flaming, her hair bristling, and her teeth grinning. She turned as on a pivot *, and gave an unearthly squall, as she saw me driving away. Then, bounding after me with furious yells, she gained on me so fast

* Pivot, a pin or peg on which a thing turns or revolves.

« السابقةمتابعة »