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Stories of Animal Sagacity

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Stories of Animal Sagacity, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  This is rather a charming book, with amusing illustrations. There arenumerous tales of how clever various individual animals have been seento be, and in most cases a little moral is drawn from the story.

  We have Cats, Dogs, Horses, Oxen, Donkeys, Elephants, Wild Animals andBirds.

  Any of us who have ever had pets can recall how clever they have been onoccasion. I wish Kingston could see those shots on television ofsquirrels who have learnt to get a few free nuts if they perform somesubtle series of tasks, such as jumping from obstacle to obstacle. Ihave only to look out of the window here to see birds building theirnests or guarding their young; in fact I can tell quite enough of whatis going on in the street outside, by taking note of the various birds'alarm calls.





  I have undertaken, my young friends, to give you a number of anecdotes,which will, I think, prove that animals possess not only instinct, whichguides them in obtaining food, and enables them to enjoy their existenceaccording to their several natures, but also that many of them arecapable of exercising a kind of reason, which comes into play undercircumstances to which they are not naturally exposed.

  Those animals more peculiarly fitted to be the companions of man, and toassist him in his occupations, appear to possess generally a largeramount of this power; at all events, we have better opportunities ofnoticing it, although, probably, it exists also in a certain degreeamong wild animals.

  I will commence with some anecdotes of the sagacity shown by animalswith which you are all well acquainted--Cats and Dogs; and if you havebeen accustomed to watch the proceedings of your dumb companions youwill be able to say, "Why, that is just like what Tabby once did;" or,"Our Ponto acted nearly as cleverly as that the other day."


  When you see Pussy seated by the fireside, blinking her eyes, andlooking very wise, you may often ask, "I wonder what she can be thinkingabout." Just then, probably, she is thinking about nothing at all; butif you were to turn her out of doors into the cold, and shut the door inher face, she would instantly begin to think, "How can I best get inagain?" And she would run round and round the house, trying to find adoor or window open by which she might re-enter it.

  I once heard of a cat which exerted a considerable amount of reasonunder these very circumstances. I am not quite certain of this Pussy'sname, but it may possibly have been Deborah. The house where Deborahwas born and bred is situated in the country, and there is a door with asmall porch opening on a flower-garden. Very often when this door wasshut, Deborah, or little Deb, as she may have been called, was leftoutside; and on such occasions she used to mew as loudly as she could tobeg for admittance. Occasionally she was not heard; but instead ofrunning away, and trying to find some other home, she used--wise littlecreature that she was!--patiently to ensconce herself in a corner of thewindow-sill, and wait till some person came to the house, who, onknocking at the door, found immediate attention. Many a day, no doubt,little Deb sat there on the window-sill and watched this proceeding,gazing at the knocker, and wondering what it had to do with getting thedoor open.

  A month passed away, and little Deb grew from a kitten into a full-sizedcat. Many a weary hour was passed in her corner. At length Deb arrivedat the conclusion that if she could manage to make the knocker sound arap-a-tap-tap on the door, the noise would summon the servant, and shewould gain admittance as well as the guests who came to the house.

  One day Deb had been shut out, when Mary, the maidservant, who wassitting industriously stitching away, heard a rap-a-tap at the frontdoor, announcing the arrival, as she supposed, of a visitor. Puttingdown her work, she hurried to the door and lifted the latch; but no onewas there except Deb, who at that moment leaped off the window-sill andentered the house. Mary looked along the road, up and down on eitherside, thinking that some person must have knocked and gone away; but noone was in sight.

  The following day the same thing happened, but it occurred several timesbefore any one suspected that Deb could possibly have lifted theknocker. At length Mary told her mistress what she suspected, and oneof the family hid in the shrubbery to watch Deb's proceedings. Deb wasallowed to ran out in the garden, and the door was closed. After a timethe little creature was seen to climb up on the window-sill, and then torear herself on her hind-feet, in an oblique position at the fullstretch of her body, when, steadying herself with one front paw, withthe other she raised the knocker; and Mary, who was on the watch,instantly ran to the door and let her in.

  Miss Deb's knock now became as well-known to the servant as that of anyother member of the family, and, no doubt to her great satisfaction, itusually met with prompt attention.

  Could the celebrated cat of the renowned Marquis of Carrabas have donemore, or better? Not only must Deb have exercised reason andreflection, as well as imitation, but a considerable amount ofperseverance; for probably she made many vain attempts before she wasrewarded with success.

  Some Scotch ladies told me of a cat they had when young, brought bytheir grandfather from Archangel, which, under the same circumstances,used to reach up to the latch of the front door of a house in thecountry, and to rattle away on it till admitted. I have seen a catwhich the same ladies now possess make a similar attempt.

  Does it not occur to you that you may take a useful lesson from littlePussy, and when you have an object to gain, a task to perform, thinkover the matter, and exert yourself to the utmost till you haveaccomplished it?


  An instance of the sagacity of a cat came under my own notice. I wasliving, a few years ago, in a country place in Dorsetshire, when one daya small tortoise-shell cat met my children on the road, and followedthem home. They, of course, petted and stroked her, and showed theirwish to make her their friend. She was one of the smallest, and yet themost active of full-grown cats I ever saw. From the first she gaveevidence of being of a wild and predatory disposition, and made sadhavoc among the rabbits, squirrels, and birds. I have several timesseen her carry along a rabbit half as big as herself. Many wouldexclaim that for so nefarious a deed she ought to have been shot; but asshe had tasted of my salt, taken refuge under my roof, besides being thepet of my children, I could not bring myself to order her destruction.

  We had, about the time of her arrival, obtained a dog to act as awatchman over the premises. She and he were at first on fair terms--asort of armed neutrality. In process of time, however, she became themother of a litter of kittens. With the exception of one, they sharedthe fate of other kittens. When she discovered the loss of her hopefulfamily, she wandered about in a melancholy way, evidently searching forthem, till, encountering Carlo, it seemed suddenly to strike her that hehad been the cause of her loss. With back up, she approached, andflying at him with the greatest fury, attacked him till blood droppedfrom his nose, when, though ten times her size, he fairly turned tailand fled. Pussy and Carlo, after this, became friends; at least, theynever interfered with each other.

  Pussy, however, to her cost, still continued her hunting expeditions.The rabbits had committed great depredations in the garden, and thegardener had procured two rabbit-traps. One had been set at aconsiderable distance from the house, and fixed securely in the ground.One morning the nurse heard a plaintive mewing at the window of theday-nursery on the ground-floor. She opened it, and in crawled poorPu
ssy, dragging the heavy iron rabbit-trap, in the teeth of which herfore-foot was caught. I was called in, and assisted to release her.Her paw swelled, and for some time she could not move out of the basketin which she was placed before the fire. Though suffering intense pain,she must have perceived that the only way to release herself was to digup the trap, and then drag it, up many steep paths, to the room whereher kindest friends--nurse and the children--were to be found.

  Carlo had been caught before in the same trap, and he bit at it, and ateverything around, and severely injured the gardener, who went torelease him. Thus Pussy, under precisely the same circumstances, showedby far the greatest amount of sagacity and cool courage. She, however,not many weeks after her recovery, came in one day with her foot sadlylacerated, having again been caught in a trap; so, although she couldreason, she did not appear to have learned wisdom from experience. Thislast misfortune, however, taught her prudence, as she was never againcaught in a trap.

  You will agree with me that Pussy was wise in going to her best friendsfor help when in distress; and foolish, having once suffered, again torun into the same danger.

  You, my young reader, will be often entrapped, if you lack strength toresist temptation. Your kind friends at home will, I am sure, help youas far as they have the power; but, that they may do so, you must on alloccasions trust them.


  I was one day calling in Dorsetshire on a clever, kind old lady, whoshowed me a beautiful tabby cat, coiled up before the fire. "Seventeenyears ago," said she, "that cat's mother had a litter. They were allordered to be drowned with the exception of one. The servant brought meone. It was a tortoise-shell. `No,' I said; `that will always belooking dirty. I will choose another.' So I put my hand into thebasket, and drew forth this tabby. The tabby has loved me ever since.When she came to have a family, she disappeared; but the rain did not,for it came pouring down through the ceiling: and it was discovered thatDame Tabby had made a lying-in hospital for herself in the thatched roofof the house. The damage she did cost several pounds; so we asked afriend who had a good cook, fond of cats, to take care of Tabby the nexttime she gave signs of having a family, as we knew she would be wellfed. We sent her in a basket completely covered up; and she was shutinto a room, where she soon exhibited a progeny of young mewlings. Morethan the usual number were allowed to survive, and it was thought thatshe would remain quietly where she was. Not so. On the firstopportunity she made her escape, and down she came all the length of thevillage, and early in the morning I heard her mewing at my bed-room doorto be let in. When I had stroked her back and spoken kindly to her, offshe went to look after her nurslings. From that day, every morning shecame regularly to see me, and would not go away till she had been spokento and caressed. Having satisfied herself that I was alive and well,back she would go. She never failed to pay me that one visit in themorning, and never came twice in the day, till she had weaned herkittens; and that very day she came back, and nothing would induce herto go away again. I had not the heart to force her back. From that dayto this she has always slept at the door of my room."

  Surely you will not be less grateful to those who brought you up thanwas my old friend's cat to her. Acts, not mere words, show thesincerity of our feelings. Consider how you are acting towards themeach hour and day of your life. Are you doing your best to act well,whether at home, at school, or at play?


  My friend Mrs F--gave me a very touching anecdote.

  A lady she knew, residing in Essex, once had two young daughters. Theyhad a pet cat which they had reared from a kitten, and which was theirconstant companion. The sisters, however, were both seized with scarletfever, and died. The cat seemed perfectly to understand what had takenplace, and, refusing to leave the room, seated herself on the bed wherethey lay, in most evident sorrow. When the bodies of the young girlswere placed in their small coffins, she continued to move backwards andforwards from one to the other, uttering low and melancholy sounds.Nothing could induce her all the time to take food, and soon after theinterment of her fond playmates she lay down and passed away from life.

  This account, given by the mother of the children, makes me quite readyto believe in the truth of similar anecdotes.

  Tender affection is like a beautiful flower: it needs cultivation. Ascold winds and pelting showers injure the fair blossoms, so passionatetemper, sullen behaviour, or misconduct, will destroy the love whichshould exist between brothers and sisters, and those whose lot is casttogether. Cherish affectionate feelings in your hearts. Be kind andgentle to all around, and your friends will love you more even than thecat I have told you about loved her mistresses.


  A lady in France possessed a cat which exhibited great affection forher. She accompanied her everywhere, and when she sat down always layat her feet. From no other hands than those of her mistress would shetake food, nor would she allow any one else to fondle her.

  The lady kept a number of tame birds; but the cat, though she wouldwillingly have caught and eaten strange birds, never injured one ofthem.

  At last the lady fell ill, when nothing could induce the cat to leaveher chamber; and on her death, the attendants had to carry away the pooranimal by force. The next morning, however, she was found in the roomof death, creeping slowly about, and mewing piteously. After thefuneral, the faithful cat made her escape from the house, and was atlength discovered stretched out lifeless above the grave of hermistress, having evidently died of a broken heart.

  The instances I have given--and I might give many more--prove the strongaffection of which cats are capable, and show that they are welldeserving of kind treatment. When we see them catch birds and mice, wemust remember that it is their nature to do so, as in their wild statethey have no other means of obtaining food.


  Animals of a very different character often form curious friendships.What do you think of the cat which of her own accord became theprotector of a pet canary, instead of eating it up?

  The cat and the bird belonged to the mother-in-law of Mrs Lee, who hasgiven us many delightful anecdotes of animals. The canary was allowedto fly about the room when the cat was shut out; but one day theirmistress, lifting her head from her work, saw that the cat had by somemeans got in; and, to her amazement, there was the canary perchedfearlessly on the back of Pussy, who seemed highly pleased with theconfidence placed in her. By the silent language with which animalscommunicate their ideas to each other, she had been able to make thecanary understand that she would not hurt it.

  After this, the two were allowed to be constantly together, to theirmutual satisfaction. One morning, however, as they were in the bed-roomof their mistress, what was her dismay to see the trustworthy cat, asshe had supposed her, after uttering a feline growl, seize the canary inher mouth, and leap with her into the bed. There she stood, her tailstiffened out, her hair bristling, and her eyes glaring fiercely. Thefate of the poor canary appeared sealed; but just then the lady caughtsight of a strange cat creeping cautiously through the open doorway.The intruder was quickly driven away, when faithful Puss deposited herfeathered friend on the bed, in no way injured--she having thus seizedit to save it from the fangs of the stranger.

  Confidence begets confidence; but be very sure that the person on whomyou bestow yours is worthy of it. If not, you will not be as fortunateas the canary was with its feline friend.

  Your truest confidants, in most cases, are your own parents.


  I have an instance of a still stranger friendship to mention. Theservants of a country-house--and I am sure that they were kind people--had enticed a frog from its hole by giving it food. As winter drew on,Froggy every evening made its way to the kitchen hearth before a blazingfire, which it found much more comfortable than its own dark abode outin the yard. Another occupant of the hearth was a favourite old c
at,which at first, I daresay, looked down on the odd little creature withsome contempt, but was too well bred to disturb an invited guest. Atlength, however, the two came to a mutual understanding; the kind heartof Pussy warming towards poor chilly little Froggy, whom she now invitedto come and nestle under her cozy fur. From that time forward, as soonas Froggy came out of its hole, it hopped fearlessly towards the oldcat, who constituted herself its protector, and would allow no one todisturb it.

  Imitate the kind cat, and be kind to the most humble, however odd theirlooks. Sometimes at school and elsewhere you may find some friendlesslittle fellow. Prove his protector. Be not less benevolent than a cat.


  That cats expect those to whom they are attached to sympathise with themin their sorrow, is shown by an affecting story told by Dr Good, theauthor of the "Book of Nature."

  He had a cat which used to sit at his elbow hour after hour while he waswriting, watching his hand moving over the paper. At length Pussy had akitten to take care of, when she became less constant in her attendanceon her master. One morning, however, she entered the room, and leapingon the table, began to rub her furry side against his hand and pen, toattract his attention. He, supposing that she wished to be let out,opened the door; but instead of running forward, she turned round andlooked earnestly at him, as though she had something to communicate.Being very busy, he shut the door upon her, and resumed his writing. Inless than an hour, the door having been opened again, he felt herrubbing against his feet; when, on looking down, he saw that she hadplaced close to them the dead body of her kitten, which had beenaccidentally killed, and which she had brought evidently that her kindmaster might mourn with her at her loss. She seemed satisfied when shesaw him with the dead kitten in his hand, making inquiries as to how ithad been killed; and when it was buried, believing that her mastershared her sorrow, she gradually took comfort, and resumed her stationat his side. Observe how, in her sorrow, Pussy went to her best friendfor sympathy. Your best earthly friends are your parents. Do nothesitate to tell them your griefs; and you will realise that it is theirjoy and comfort to sympathise with you in all your troubles, little orgreat, and to try to relieve them.


  Kittens, especially if deprived of their natural protectors, seem tolong for the friendship of other beings, and will often roam about tillthey find a person in whom they think they may confide. Sometimes theymake a curious choice. A kitten born on the roof of an out-house was byan accident deprived of its mother and brethren. It evaded all attemptsto catch it, though food was put within its reach. Just below where itlived, a brood of chickens were constantly running about; and at length,growing weary of solitude, it thought that it would like to have suchlively little playmates. So down it scrambled, and timidly crepttowards them. Finding that they were not likely to do it harm, it laydown among them. The chickens seemed to know that it was too young tohurt them.

  It now followed them wherever they moved to pick up their food. In ashort time a perfect understanding was established between the kittenand the fowls, who appeared especially proud of their new friend. Thekitten, discovering this, assumed the post of leader, and used toconduct them about the grounds, amusing itself at their expense.Sometimes it would catch hold of their feet, as if going to bite them,when they would peck at it in return. At others it would hide behind abush, and then springing out into their midst, purr and rub itselfagainst their sides. One pullet was its especial favourite; itaccompanied her every day to her nest under the boards of an out-house,and would then lie down outside, as if to watch over her. When shereturned to the other fowls, it would follow, setting up its tail, andpurring at her.

  When other chickens were born, it transferred its interest to them,taking each fresh brood under its protection--the parent hen appearingin no way alarmed at having so unusual a nurse for her young ones.

  Be as sensible as the little kitten. Don't stand on your dignity, orkeep upon the roof, in a fit of the sulks; but jump down, and shake suchfeelings off with a game of good-natured play.


  Similar affection for one of the feathered race was shown by a cat whichwas rearing several kittens.

  In another part of the loft a pigeon had built her nest; but her eggsand young having been frequently destroyed by rats, it seemed to occurto her that she should be in safer quarters near the cat. Pussy,pleased with the confidence placed in her, invited the pigeon to remainnear her, and a strong friendship was established between the two. Theyfed out of the same dish; and when Pussy was absent, the pigeon, inreturn for the protection afforded her against the rats, constitutedherself the defender of the kittens--and on any person approachingnearer than she liked, she would fly out and attack them with beak andwings, in the hope of driving them away from her young charges.Frequently, too, after this, when neither the kittens nor her own broodrequired her care, and the cat went out about the garden or fields, thepigeon might be seen fluttering close by her, for the sake of hersociety.

  Help and protect one another in all right things, as did the cat and thepigeon, whatever your respective ages or stations in life. The big boyor girl may be able to assist and protect the little ones, who mayrender many a service in return.


  Cats exhibit their affectionate nature in a variety of ways. Ifdeprived of their kittens, they have a yearning for the care of someother young creatures, which they will gratify when possible.

  A cat had been cruelly deprived of all her kittens. She was seen goingabout mewing disconsolately for her young ones. Her owner receivedabout the same time a leveret, which he hoped to tame by feeding it witha spoon. One morning, however, the leveret was missing, and as it couldnowhere be discovered, it was supposed to have been carried off andkilled by some strange cat or dog. A fortnight had elapsed, when, asthe gentleman was seated in his garden, in the dusk of the evening, heobserved his cat, with tail erect, trotting towards him, purring andcalling in the way cats do to their kittens. Behind her came,gambolling merrily, and with perfect confidence, a little leveret,--thevery one, it was now seen, which had disappeared. Pussy, deprived ofher kittens, had carried it off and brought it up instead, bestowing onit the affection of her maternal heart.

  It is your blessed privilege to have hearts to feel the greatestenjoyment in tender love for others. See that you keep that love inconstant exercise, or, like others of our best gifts, it may grow dullby disuse or abuse. The time may come when, deprived of your parents orbrothers and sisters, you will bitterly mourn the sorrow you have causedby your evil temper or neglect.


  I have a longer story than the last to tell, of a cat which undertookthe nursing of some puppies while she already had some kittens of herown. It happened that her mistress possessed a valuable little blackspaniel, which had a litter of five puppies. As these were too many forthe spaniel to bring up, and the mistress was anxious to have them allpreserved, it was proposed that they should be brought up by hand. Thecook, to whom the proposal was made, suggested that this would be adifficult undertaking; but as the cat had lately kittened, some of thepuppies might be given to her to bring up. Two of the kittens wereaccordingly taken away, and the same number of puppies substituted.What Puss thought of the matter has not transpired, or whether even shediscovered the trick that had been played her; but be that as it may,she immediately began to bestow the same care on the little changelingsthat she had done on her own offspring, and in a fortnight they were asforward and playful as kittens would have been, gambolling about, andbarking lustily--while the three puppies nursed by their own mother werewhining and rolling about in the most helpless fashion.

  Puss had proved a better nurse than the little spaniel. She gave themher tail to play with, and kept them always in motion and amused, sothat they ate meat, and were strong enough to be removed and to takecare of themselves, long before their broth
ers and sisters.

  On their being taken away from her, their poor nurse showed her sorrow,and went prowling about the house, looking for them in every direction.At length she caught sight of the spaniel and the three remainingpuppies. Instantly up went her back; her bristles stood erect, and hereyes glared fiercely at the little dog, which she supposed had carriedoff her young charges.

  "Ho, ho! you vile thief, who have ventured to rob me of my young ones; Ihave found you at last!" she exclaimed--at least, she thought as much,if she did not say it. The spaniel barked defiance, answering--"Theyare my own puppies; you know they are as unlike as possible to yourlittle, tiresome, frisky mewlings."

  "I tell you I know them to be mine," cried Puss, spitting and hissing;"I mean to recover my own." And before the spaniel knew what was goingto happen, Puss sprang forward, seized one of the puppies, and carriedit off to her own bed in another part of the premises.

  Not content with this success, as soon as she had safely deposited thepuppy in her home, she returned to the abode of the spaniel. This timeshe simply dashed forward, as if she had made up her mind what to do,knocked over the spaniel with her paw, seized another puppy in hermouth, and carrying it off, placed it alongside the first she hadcaptured. She was now content. Two puppies she had lost, two she hadobtained. Whether or not she thought them the same which had been takenfrom her, it is difficult to say. At all events, she nursed the twolatter with the same tender care as the first.

  Copy playful Pussy, when you have charge of little children. They enjoygames of romps as much as young puppies do, and will be far happier, andthrive better, than when compelled to loll about by themselves, whileyou sit at your book or work in silent dignity and indifference to theirrequirements, however fond you may be of them--as was, I daresay, themother spaniel of her pups.


  No stronger evidence of the sagacity of the cat is to be found than aninstance narrated to me by my friend, Mrs F--, and for which I canvouch.

  A lady, Miss P--, who was a governess in her family, had previously heldthe same position in that of Lord --, in Ireland. While there a catbecame very strongly attached to her. Though allowed to enter theschool-room and dining-room, where she was fed and petted, the animalnever came into the lady's bed-room; nor was she, indeed, accustomed togo into that part of the house at any time.

  One night, however, after retiring to rest, Miss P--was disturbed by thegentle but incessant mewing of the cat at her bed-room door. At firstshe was not inclined to pay attention to the cat's behaviour, but theperseverance of the animal, and a peculiarity in the tones of her voice,at length induced her to open the door. The cat, on this, boundedforward, and circled round her rapidly, looking up in her face, mewingexpressively. Miss P--, thinking that the cat had only taken a fancy topay her a visit, refastened the door, intending to let her remain in theroom; but this did not appear to please Pussy at all. She sprang backto the door, mewing more loudly than before; then she came again to thelady, and then went to the door, as if asking her to follow.

  "What is it you want?" exclaimed Miss P--. "Well, go away, if you donot wish to stay!" and she opened the door; but the cat, instead ofgoing, recommenced running to and fro between the door and her friend,continuing to mew as she looked up into her face.

  Miss P--'s attention was now attracted by a peculiar noise, as ifproceeding from the outside of one of the windows on the ground-floor.A few moments more convinced her that some persons were attempting toforce an entrance.

  Instantly throwing a shawl around her, she hurried along the passage,the cat gliding by her side, purring now in evident contentment, to Lord--'s bed-room door, where her knock was quickly answered, and anexplanation given.

  The household was soon aroused; bells were rung, lights flitted about,servants hurried here and there; and persons watching from the windowsdistinctly saw several men making off with all speed, and scramblingover an adjacent wall.

  It was undoubtedly owing to the sagacity of the cat that the mansion waspreserved from midnight robbery, and the inmates probably from somefearful outrage. She must have reasoned that the intruders had nobusiness there; whilst her reason and affection combined induced her towarn her best friend of the threatened danger. She may have feared,also, that any one else in the house would have driven her heedlesslyaway.

  My dear reader, may we not believe that this reasoning power was givento the dumb animal for the protection of the family against evil-doers?I might give you many instances of beneficent purposes being carried outby equally simple and apparently humble agencies.

  Let us, then, learn always to treat dumb animals with kindness andconsideration, since they are so often given to us as companions for ourbenefit. Like the cat, you may by vigilance be of essential service toothers more powerful than yourself. For the same reason, never despisethe good-will or warnings of even the most humble.


  I have heard of another cat, who, had she lived in Lord --'s house whenattacked by robbers, might very speedily have aroused the family.

  This cat, however, lived in a nunnery in France. She had observed thatwhen a certain bell was rung, all the inmates assembled for their meals,when she also received her food.

  One day she was shut up in a room by herself when she heard the bellring. In vain she attempted to get out; she could not open the door,the window was too high to reach. At length, after some hours'imprisonment, the door was opened. Off she hurried to the place whereshe expected to find her dinner, but none was there. She was veryhungry, and hunger is said to sharpen the wits. She knew where the ropehung which pulled the bell in the belfry. "Now, when that bell rings Igenerally get my supper," she thought, as she ran towards the rope. Ithung down temptingly within her reach--a good thick rope. She sprangupon it. It gave a pleasant tinkle. She jerked harder and harder, andthe bell rang louder and louder. "Now I shall get my supper, though Ihave lost my dinner," she thought as she pulled away.

  The nuns hearing the bell ring at so unusual an hour, came hurrying intothe belfry, wondering what was the matter, when what was their surpriseto see the cat turned bell-ringer! They puzzled their heads for sometime, till the lay sister who generally gave the cat her mealsrecollected that she had not been present at dinner-time; and thus themystery was solved, and Pussy rewarded for her exertions by having hersupper brought to her without delay.

  Instead of sitting down and crying when in a difficulty, think, likesensible Pussy, of the best way to get out of it. In lieu of wringingyour hands, ring the bell.


  The last story reminds me of Mrs F--'s account of the cat and theknocker. That same intelligent little cat was also one of the mostaffectionate of her race. Her young mistress used to go to school for afew hours daily in the neighbouring town. Pussy would every morningsally forth with her, and bound along beside her pony as far as thegate, then going quietly back to the house. Regularly, however, at thetime the little girl was expected to return, the faithful pet might beseen watching about the door; and if Missy were delayed longer thanusual, would extend her walk to the gate, there awaiting her approach,and evincing her delight by joyful gambols as soon as she descried hercoming along the road. Pussy would then hurry back to the house-door,that she might give notice of her young mistress's return, and themoment she alighted would welcome her with happy purrings and caresses.

  Endeavour to be as regular in all your ways as my friend's cat. Neverkeep your friends waiting for you, but rather wait for them. Show youraffection and wish to please in this as in other ways. Thank Pussy forthe excellent example she has set you.


  While speaking of the affection of cats, I must not forget to mention anotable example of it shown by the favourite cat of a young nobleman inthe days of Queen Elizabeth.

  For some political offence he had been shut up in prison, and had longpined in solitude,
when he was startled by hearing a slight noise in thechimney. On looking up, great was his surprise and delight to see hisfavourite cat bound over the hearth towards him, purring joyfully at themeeting. She had probably been shut up for some time before she hadmade her escape, and then she must have sought her master, traversingmiles of steep and slippery roofs, along dangerous parapets, and throughforests of chimney-stacks, urged on by the strength of her attachment,and guided by a mysterious instinct, till she discovered the funnelwhich led into his prison chamber.

  Certainly it was not by chance she made the discovery, nor was itexactly reason that conducted her to the spot. By whatever means shefound it, we must regard the affectionate little creature as the very"Blondel of cats."

  Never spare trouble or exertion to serve a friend, or to please thoseyou are bound to please. Remember the prisoner's cat.


  Cats often show great courage, especially in defence of their young.

  A cat had led her kittens out into the sunshine, and while they werefrisking around her they were espied by a hawk soaring overhead. Downpounced the bird of prey and seized one in his talons. Encumbered bythe weight of the fat little creature, he was unable to rise againbefore the mother cat had discovered what had occurred. With a boundshe fiercely attacked the marauder, and compelled him to drop her kittenin order to defend himself. A regular combat now commenced, the hawkfighting with beak and talons, and rising occasionally on his wings. Itseemed likely that he would thus gain the victory; still more when hestruck his sharp beak into one of Pussy's eyes, while he tore her earsinto shreds with his talons. At length, however, she managed what hadbeen from the first her aim--to break one of her adversary's wings. Shenow sprang on him with renewed fury, and seizing him by the neck,quickly tore off his head. This done, regardless of her own sufferings,she began to lick the bleeding wounds of her kitten, and then, callingto its brothers and sisters, she carried it back to their secure home.

  You will find many hawks with which you must do battle. The fiercestand most dangerous are those you must encounter every day. Hugedark-winged birds of prey--passionate temper, hatred, discontent,jealousy;--an ugly list, I will not go on with it. Fight against themas bravely as Pussy fought with the hawk which tried to carry off herkitten.


  That we must attribute to cats the estimable virtue of benevolence, MrsF--gives me two anecdotes to prove.

  A lady in the south of Ireland having lost a pet cat, and searched forit in vain, after four days was delighted to hear that it had returned.Hastening to welcome the truant with a wassail-bowl of warm milk in thekitchen, she observed another cat skulking with the timidity of anuninvited guest in an obscure corner. The pet cat received the caressesof its mistress with its usual pleasure, but, though it circled roundthe bowl of milk with grateful purrings, it declined to drink, going upto the stranger instead, whom, with varied mewings, "like man's ownspeech," it prevailed on to quit the shadowy background and approach thetempting food. At length both came up to the bowl, when the thirstystranger feasted to its full satisfaction, while the cat of the housestood by in evident satisfaction watching its guest; and not until itwould take no more could the host be persuaded to wet its whiskers inthe tempting beverage.

  Ever think of others before yourself. Attend first to their wants. Donot be outdone in true courtesy by a cat.


  Mrs F--vouches for the following account, showing the hospitabledisposition of cats. It was given to her by a clergyman, who had itdirect from a friend.

  A gentleman in Australia had a pet cat to which he daily gave a plate ofviands with his own hands. The allowance was liberal, and there wasalways a remainder; but after some time the gentleman perceived thatanother cat came to share the repast. Finding that this occurred forseveral consecutive days, he increased the allowance. It was then foundto be too much for two; there was again a residue for several days, whena third cat was brought in to share the feast. Amused at thisproceeding, the gentleman now began to experiment, and again increasedthe daily dole of food. A fourth guest now appeared; and he continuedadding gradually to the allowance of viands, and found that the numberof feline guests also progressively increased, until about thirty wereassembled; after which no further additions took place, so that heconcluded that all those who lived within _visiting distance_ wereincluded: indeed, the wonder was that so many could assemble, as thedistrict he lived in was far from populous.

  The stranger cats always decorously departed after dinner was over,leaving their hospitable entertainer, no doubt, with such gratefuldemonstrations as might be dictated by the feline code of etiquette.

  Ask yourselves if you are always as anxious as was the Australian cat toinvite your companions to enjoy with you the good things you have givenyou by kind friends. Ah! what an important lesson we may learn fromthis anecdote: always to think of others before ourselves. When youngfriends visit you, do you try your utmost to entertain them, thinking oftheir comfort before your own? Such is the lesson taught us by thiscat, which gathered others of her kind to share the bounties provided byher kind master.


  I am sorry to say that cats are not always so amiable as those I havedescribed, but will occasionally play all sorts of tricks, like somedishonest boys and girls, to obtain what they want.

  An Angora cat, which lived in a large establishment in France, haddiscovered that when a certain bell rang the cook always left thekitchen. Numerous niceties were scattered about, some on the tables anddressers, others before the fire. Pussy crept towards them, and tastedthem; they exactly suited her palate. When she heard the cook's stepreturning, off she ran to a corner and pretended to be sleeping soundly.How she longed that the bell would ring again!

  At last, like another cat I have mentioned, she thought that she wouldtry to ring it herself, and get cook out of the way; she could resisther longing for those sweet creams no longer. Off she crept, jumped upat the bell-rope, and succeeded in sounding the bell. Away hurried cookto answer it. The coast was now clear, and Pussy revelled in thedelicacies left unguarded--being out of the kitchen, or apparentlyasleep in her corner, before cook returned.

  This trick continued to answer Pussy's object for some time, the cookwondering what had become of her tarts and creams, till a watch waswisely set to discover the thief, when the dishonest though sagaciouscat was seen to pull the bell, and then, when cook went out, to stealinto the kitchen and feast at her leisure.

  There is a proverb--which pray condemn as a bad one, because the motiveoffered is wrong--that "honesty is the best policy." Rather say, "Behonest because it is right." Pussy, with her manoeuvres to steal thecreams, thought herself very clever, but she was found out.


  I must now tell you of another cat which was a sad thief, and showed aconsiderable amount of sagacity in obtaining what she wanted. One dayshe found a cream-jug on the breakfast-table, full of cream. It wastall, and had a narrow mouth. She longed for the nice rich contents,but could not reach the cream even with her tongue; if she upset thejug, her theft would be discovered. At last she thought to herself, "Imay put in my paw, though I cannot get in my head, and some of that nicestuff will stick to it."

  She made the experiment, and found it answer. Licking her paw as oftenas she drew it out, she soon emptied the jug, so that when the familycame down they had no cream for breakfast. A few drops on thetable-cloth, however, showed how it had been stolen--Pussy, like humanbeings who commit dishonest actions, not being quite so clever as sheprobably thought herself.


  Cats often show that they possess some of the vices as well as some ofthe virtues of human beings. The tom-cat is frequently fierce,treacherous, and vindictive, and at no time can his humour be crossedwith impunity. Mrs F--mentions several instances of this.

  A person she knew in the south of Ireland had
severely chastised his catfor some misdemeanour, when the creature immediately ran off and couldnot be found. Some days afterwards, as this person was going from home,what should he see in the centre of a narrow path between walls but hiscat, with its back up, its eyeballs glaring, and a wicked expression inits countenance. Expecting to frighten off the creature, he slashed atit with his handkerchief, when it sprang at him with a fierce hiss, and,seizing his hand in its mouth, held on so tightly that he was unable tobeat it off. He hastened home, nearly fainting with the agony heendured, and not till the creature's body was cut from the head couldthe mangled hand be extricated.

  An Irish gentleman had an only son, quite a little boy, who, beingwithout playmates, was allowed to have a number of cats sleeping in hisroom. One day the boy beat the father of the family for some offence,and when he was asleep at night the revengeful beast seized him by thethroat, and might have killed him had not instant help been at hand.The cat sprang from the window and was no more seen.

  If you are always gentle and kind, you will never arouse anger orrevenge. It may be aroused in the breast of the most harmless-lookingcreatures and the most contemptible. Your motive, however, for actinggently and lovingly should be, not fear of the consequences of acontrary behaviour, but that the former is right.