—HENRY WARD BEECHER.
[Footnote: Henry Ward Beecher was born in 1813 and died in 1887. He was a noted lecturer, reformer, author, and clergyman. He was also among the most prominent of anti-slavery orators, and delivered many addresses in England on subjects relating to the Civil War.
Why do you suppose Mr. Beecher was introduced as Henry Ward Beecher Stowe? Name some characteristics of Mr. Beecher as revealed in this selection. What qualities would you attribute to an English audience, judging from this account? Do you know anything about the custom of "heckling" in England? How much was the success of the speech due to Mr. Beecher's sense of humor? Do you imagine that Mr. Beecher was successful in his addresses to the English people? Why?]
A GREEN DONKEY DRIVER
There dwelt an old man in Monastier, [Footnote: Monastier: a little village in southern France.] of rather unsound intellect according to some, much followed by street-boys, and known to fame as Father Adam. Father Adam had a cart, and to draw the cart a diminutive donkey, not much bigger than a dog, the color of a mouse, with a kindly eye and a determined under-jaw. There was something neat and high-bred, a Quakerish elegance, about the rogue that hit my fancy on the spot.
Our first interview was in Monastier market-place. To prove her good temper, one child after another was set upon her back to ride, and one after another went head over heels into the air; until a want of confidence began to reign in youthful bosoms, and the experiment was discontinued from a dearth of subjects. I was already backed by a deputation [Footnote: Deputation: a group of persons sent to act in behalf of others.] of my friends; but as if this were not enough, all the buyers and sellers came around and helped me in the bargain; and the ass and I and Father Adam were the centre of a hubbub for near half an hour. At length she passed into my service for the consideration of sixty-five francs and a glass of brandy. The sack had already cost eighty francs and two glasses of beer; so that Modestine, as I instantly baptized her, was upon all accounts the cheaper article.
By the advice of a fallacious [Footnote: Fallacious: misleading, deceptive.] local saddler, a leather pad was made for me with rings to fasten on my bundle; and I thoughtfully completed my kit and arranged my toilette. By way of armory and utensils, I took a revolver, a little spirit lamp and pan, a lantern and some halfpenny candles, a jack-knife and a large leather flask. The main cargo consisted of two entire changes of warm clothing, besides my travelling wear of country velveteen, pilot coat, and knitted spencer, some books, and my railway-rug, which, being also in the form of a bag, made me a double castle for cold nights. The permanent larder was represented by cakes of chocolate and tins of Bologna sausage. All this, except what I carried about my person, was easily stowed into the sheepskin bag; and by good fortune I threw in my empty knapsack, rather for convenience of carriage than from any thought that I should want it on my journey. For more immediate needs, I took a leg of cold mutton, a bottle of Beaujolais, [Footnote: Beaujolais: a red wine made in southeastern France.] an empty bottle to carry milk, an egg-beater, and a considerable quantity of black bread and white for myself and donkey.
On the day of my departure I was up a little after five; by six we began to load the donkey; and ten minutes after, my hopes were in the dust. The pad would not stay on Modestine's back for half a moment. I returned it to its maker, with whom I had so contumelious [Footnote: Contumelious: rude and abusive.] a passage that the street outside was crowded from wall to wall with gossips looking on and listening. The pad changed hands with much vivacity; perhaps it would be more descriptive to say that we threw it at each other's heads; and, at any rate, we were very warm and unfriendly, and spoke with a deal of freedom.
I had a common donkey pack-saddle fitted upon Modestine; and once more loaded her with my effects.
The bell of Monastier was just striking nine as I got quit of these preliminary troubles and descended the hill through the common. As long as I was within sight of the windows, a secret shame and the fear of some laughable defeat withheld me from tampering with Modestine. She tripped along upon her four small hoofs with a sober daintiness of gait; from time to time she shook her ears or her tail; and she looked so small under the bundle that my mind misgave me. We got across the ford without difficulty—there was no doubt about the matter, she was docility itself—and once on the other bank, where the road begins to mount through pine-woods, I took in my right hand the unhallowed staff, and with a quaking spirit applied it to the donkey. Modestine brisked up her pace for perhaps three steps, and then relapsed into her former minuet. [Footnote: Minuet: a slow, stately dance.] Another application had the same effect, and so with the third. I am worthy the name of an Englishman, and it goes against my conscience to lay my hand rudely on a female. I desisted, and looked her all over from head to foot; the poor brute's knees were trembling and her breathing was distressed; it was plain that she could not go faster on a hill. God forbid, thought I, that I should brutalize this innocent creature; let her go at her own pace, and let me patiently follow.
What that pace was, there is no word mean enough to describe, it was something as much slower than a walk as a walk is slower than a run; it kept me hanging on each foot for an incredible length of time; in five minutes it exhausted the spirit and set up a fever in all the muscles of the leg. And yet I had to keep close at hand and measure my advance exactly upon hers; for if I dropped a few yards in to the rear, or went on a few yards ahead, Modestine came instantly to a halt and began to browse. The thought that this was to last from here to Alais [Footnote: Alais: a town in southeastern France not far from the Rhone River.] nearly broke my heart. Of all conceivable journeys, this promised to be the most tedious. I tried to tell myself it was a lovely day; I tried to charm my foreboding spirit with tobacco; but I had a vision ever present to me of the long long roads, up hill and down dale, and a pair of figures ever infinitesimally moving, foot by foot, a yard to the minute, and, like things enchanted in a nightmare, approaching no nearer to the goal.
In the meantime there came up behind us a tall peasant, perhaps forty years of age, of an ironical snuffy countenance, and arrayed in the green tail-coat of the country. He overtook us hand over hand, and stopped to consider our pitiful advance.
"Your donkey," says he, "is very old?"
I told him, I believed not.
Then, he supposed, we had come far.
I told him we had but newly left Monastier.
"Et vous marchez comme ca!" [Footnote: Et vous marchez comme ca! "and you are moving like that!"] cried he; and, throwing back his head, he laughed long and heartily. I watched him, half prepared to feel offended, until he had satisfied his mirth; and then, "You must have no pity on these animals," said he; and, plucking a switch out of a thicket, he began to lace Modestine about the stern works, uttering a cry. The rogue pricked up her ears and broke into a good round pace, which she kept up without flagging, and without exhibiting the least symptom of distress, as long as the peasant kept beside us. Her former panting and shaking had been, I regret to say, a piece of comedy.
My deus ex machina, [Footnote: Deus ex machina: "the god out of the machine"; some supernatural intervention.] before he left me, supplied some excellent, if inhumane, advice; presented me with the switch, which he declared she would feel more tenderly than my cane; and finally taught me the true cry or masonic word of donkey-drivers, "Proot!" All the time, he regarded me with a comical incredulous air, as I might have smiled over his orthography or his green tail-coat. But it was not my turn for the moment.
I hurried over my midday meal, and was early forth again. But, alas, as we climbed the interminable hill upon the other side, "Proot!" seemed to have lost its virtue. I prooted like a lion, I prooted melliflously [Footnote: Melliflously: sweetly. Find this allusion in "Midsummer Night's Dream," Act I, Scene 2.] like a sucking-dove; but Modestine would be neither softened nor intimidated. She held doggedly to her pace; nothing but a blow would move her, and that only for a second. I must follow at her heels, incessantly belaboring. A moment's pause in this ignoble toil, and she relapsed into her own private gait. I think I never heard of any one in as mean a situation. I must reach the lake of Bouchet, where I meant to camp, before sundown; and, to have even a hope of this, I must instantly maltreat this uncomplaining animal. The sound of my blows sickened me. Once, when I looked at her, she had a faint resemblance to a lady of my acquaintance who formerly loaded me with kindness; and this increased my horror of my cruelty.
It was blazing hot up the valley, windless, with vehement sun upon my shoulders; and I had to labor so consistently with my stick that the sweat ran into my eyes. Every five minutes, too, the pack, the basket, and the pilot-coat would take an ugly slew [Footnote: Slew: twist.] to one side or the other; and I had to stop Modestine, just when I had got her to a tolerable pace of about two miles an hour, to tug, push, shoulder, and re-adjust the load. And at last, in the village of Ussel, [Footnote: Ussel: a town about one hundred miles northwest of Alais.] saddle and all, the whole hypothec [Footnote: Hypothec: literally, the property of a tenant held by a landlord as security for rent. Here, of course, the property insufficiently secured on the donkey.] turned round and grovelled in the dust, below the donkey's belly. She none better pleased, incontinently drew up and seemed to smile; and a party of one man, two women, and two children came up, and, standing round me in a half-circle, encouraged her by their example.
I disposed it, Heaven knows how, so as to be mildly portable, and then proceeded to steer Modestine through the village. She tried, as was indeed her invariable habit, to enter every house and every courtyard in the whole length, and, encumbered as I was, without a hand to help myself, no words can render an idea of my difficulties. A priest, with six or seven others, was examining a church in process of repair, and his acolytes [Footnote: Acolytes: assistants of the priest during mass.] laughed loudly as they saw my plight. I remembered having laughed myself when I had seen good men struggling with adversity in the person of a jackass, and the recollection filled me with penitence. That was in my old light days, before this trouble came upon me. God knows at least that I shall never laugh again, thought I. But O, what a cruel thing is a farce to those engaged in it!
A little out of the village, Modestine, filled with the demon, set her heart upon a by-road, and positively refused to leave it. I dropped all my bundles, and, I am ashamed to say, struck the poor sinner twice across the face. It was pitiful to see her lift up her head with shut eyes, as if waiting for another blow. I came very near crying; but I did a wiser thing than that, and sat squarely down by the roadside to consider my situation. Modestine in the meanwhile, munched some black bread with a contrite hypocritical air. It was plain that I must make a sacrifice to the gods of shipwreck. I threw away the empty bottles destined to carry milk; I threw away my own white bread, and, disdaining to act by general average, kept the black bread for Modestine; lastly I threw away the cold leg of mutton and the egg whisk, although this last was dear to my heart.
Thus I found room for everything in the basket, and even stowed the boating-coat on the top. By means of an end of cord I slung it under one arm; and although the cord cut my shoulder, and the jacket hung almost to the ground, it was with a heart greatly lightened that I set forth.
—ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON (adapted).
[Footnote: Would you judge that this was the writer's first experience in camping? Why? What is added to the story by attributing human qualities to Modestine? How did she seem to be always putting him in the wrong? Do people ever work such tricks? What characteristics of the author are shown in this sketch? Is the humor of the story one of situation merely? What other selections are similar to this in the style of writing? in the humor?]
A NIGHT IN THE PINES
The trees were not old, but they grew thickly round the glade: there was no outlook, except northeastward upon distant hill-tops, or straight upward to the sky; and the encampment felt secure and private like a room. By the time I had made my arrangements and fed Modestine, the day was already beginning to decline. I buckled myself to the knees into my sack and made a hearty meal; and as soon as the sun went down, I pulled my cap over my eyes and fell asleep.
Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof; but in the open world it passes lightly, with its stars and dews and perfumes, and the hours are marked by changes in the face of Nature. What seems a kind of temporal death to people choked between walls and curtains, is only a light and living slumber to the man who sleeps afield. All night long he can hear Nature breathing deeply and freely; even as she takes her rest she turns and smiles; and there is one stirring hour unknown to those who dwell in houses, when a wakeful influence goes abroad over the sleeping hemisphere, and all the out-door world are on their feet. It is then that the cock first crows, not this time to announce the dawn, but like a cheerful watchman speeding the course of night. Cattle awake on the meadows; sheep break their fast on dewy hillsides, and change to a new lair among the ferns; and houseless men, who have lain down with the fowls, open their dim eyes and behold the beauty of the night.
The stars were clear, colored, and jewel-like, but not frosty. A faint silvery vapor stood for the Milky Way. All around me the black fir-points stood upright and stock-still. By the whiteness of the pack-saddle, I could see Modestine walking round and round at the length of her tether; I could hear her steadily munching at the sward; but there was not another sound, save the indescribable quiet talk of the runnel over the stones. I lay lazily smoking and studying the color of the sky, as we call the void of space, where it showed a reddish gray behind the pines to where it showed a glossy blue-black between the stars. As if to be more like a pedler, I wear a silver ring. This I could see faintly shining as I raised or lowered the cigarette; and at each whiff the inside of my hand was illuminated, and became for a second the highest light in the landscape.
A faint wind, more like a moving coolness than a stream of air, passed down the glade from time to time; so that even in my great chamber the air was being renewed all night long. I thought with horror of the inn at Chasserades and the congregated night caps; with horror of the nocturnal prowesses of clerks and students, of hot theatres, and passkeys and close rooms. I have not often enjoyed a more serene possession of myself, nor felt more independent of material aids. The outer world, from which we cower into our houses, seemed after all a gentle, habitable place; and night after night a man's bed, it seemed, was laid and waiting for him in the fields, where God keeps an open house.
As I lay thus, between content and longing, a faint noise stole towards me through the pines. I thought, at first, it was the crowing of cocks or the barking of dogs at some very distant farm; but steadily and gradually it took articulate shape in my ears, until I became aware that a passenger was going by upon the high-road in the valley, and singing loudly as he went. There was more of good-will than grace in his performance; but he trolled with ample lungs; and the sound of his voice took hold upon the hillside and set the air shaking in the leafy glens. I have heard people passing by night in sleeping cities, some of them sang; one, I remember, played loudly on the bagpipes. I have heard the rattle of a cart or carriage spring up suddenly after hours of stillness, and pass for some minutes, within the range of my hearing as I lay abed. There is a romance about all who are abroad in the black hours, and with something of a thrill we try to guess their business. But here the romance was double; first this glad passenger, lit internally with wine, who sent up his voice in music through the night; and then I, on the other hand, buckled into my sack, and smoking alone in the pine-woods between four and five thousand feet towards the stars.
—ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
[Footnote: What use does the author make of contrast? What things does he notice? Did you ever sleep at night out of doors? If so, was the night empty of impressions or did you hear and see things? What characteristic things has Stevenson chosen to give you in the picture of camping out at night? What things do you suppose Stevenson most enjoyed in his life out of doors?]
LIFE IN OLD NEW YORK
In those good old days of simplicity and sunshine, a passion for cleanliness was the leading principle in domestic economy, and the universal test of an able housewife.
The front door was never opened, except for marriages, funerals, New Year's Day, the festival of St. Nicholas, or some such great occasion. It was ornamented with a gorgeous brass knocker, which was curiously wrought,—sometimes in the device of a dog, and sometimes in that of a lion's head,—and daily burnished with such religious zeal that it was often worn out by the very precautions taken for its preservation.
The whole house was constantly in a state of inundation, [Footnote: Inundation: a flood.] under the discipline of mops and brooms and scrubbing brushes; and the good housewives of those days were a kind of amphibious [Footnote: Amphibious: able to live in water and on land.] animal, delighting exceedingly to be dabbling in water,—insomuch that an historian of the day gravely tells us that many of his townswomen grew to have webbed fingers, "like unto ducks."
The grand parlor was the sanctum, where the passion for cleaning was indulged without control. No one was permitted to enter this sacred apartment, except the mistress and her confidential maid, who visited it once a week for the purpose of giving it a thorough cleaning. On these occasions they always took the precaution of leaving their shoes at the door, and entering devoutly [Footnote: Entering devoutly, etc. What Oriental custom is the author alluding to?] in their stocking feet.
After scrubbing the floor, sprinkling it with fine white sand,—which was curiously stroked with a broom into angles and curves and rhomboids,—after washing the windows, rubbing and polishing the furniture, and putting a new branch of evergreens in the fireplace, the windows were again closed to keep out the flies, and the room was kept carefully locked, until the revolution of time brought round the weekly cleaning day.
As to the family, they always entered in at the gate, and generally lived in the kitchen. To have seen a numerous household assembled round the fire, one would have imagined that he was transported to those happy days of primeval simplicity which float before our imaginations like golden visions.
The fireplaces were of a truly patriarchal magnitude, where the whole family, old and young, master and servant, black and white,—nay, even the very cat and dog,—enjoyed a community of privilege, and had each a right to a corner. Here the old burgher would sit in perfect silence, puffing his pipe, looking in the fire with half-shut eyes, and thinking of nothing, for hours together; the good wife on the opposite side, would employ herself diligently in spinning yarn or knitting stockings.
The young folks would crowd around the hearth, listening with breathless attention to some old crone of a negro, who was the oracle of the family, and who, perched like a raven in a corner of the chimney, would croak forth, for a long winter afternoon, a string of incredible stories about New England witches, grisly ghosts, and bloody encounters among Indians.
In these happy days, fashionable parties were generally confined to the higher classes, or noblesse; that is to say, such as kept their own cows, and drove their own wagons. The company usually assembled at three o'clock, and went away about six, unless it was in winter time, when the fashionable hours were a little earlier, that the ladies might reach home before dark.
The tea table was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well stored with slices of fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, and swimming in gravy. The company seated round the genial board, evinced their dexterity in launching their forks at the fattest pieces in this mighty dish,—in much the same manner that sailors harpoon porpoises at sea, or our Indians spear salmon in the lakes.
Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat and called doughnuts or olykocks, a delicious kind of cake, at present little known in this city, except in genuine Dutch families.
The tea was served out of a majestic Delft teapot, ornamented with paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses tending pigs,—with boats sailing in the air, and houses built in the clouds, and sundry other ingenious Dutch fancies. The beaux distinguished themselves by their adroitness in replenishing this pot from a huge copper teakettle. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar was laid beside each cup, and the company alternately nibbled and sipped with great decorum; until an improvement was introduced by a shrewd and economic old lady, which was to suspend, by a string from the ceiling, a large lump directly over the tea table, so that it could be swung from mouth to mouth.
At these primitive tea parties, the utmost propriety and dignity prevailed,—no flirting nor coquetting; no romping of young ladies; no self-satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen, with their brains in their pockets, nor amusing conceits and monkey divertisements [Footnote: Divertisements: diversions, amusements.] of smart young gentlemen, with no brains at all.
On the contrary, the young ladies seated themselves demurely in their rush-bottomed chairs, and knit their own woolen stockings; nor ever opened their lips, excepting to say yah, Mynheer, or yah, Vroww, [Footnote: Yay, Mynheer: "yes, sir." Yay, Vrow: "yes, madam."] to any question that was asked them; behaving in all things like decent, well-educated damsels. As to the gentlemen, each of them tranquilly smoked his pipe, and seemed lost in contemplation of the blue and white tiles with which the fireplaces were decorated; wherein sundry passages of Scripture were piously portrayed. Tobit [Footnote: Tobit. The Book of Tobit is part of the Apocrypha.] and his dog figured to great advantage; Haman [Footnote: Haman is the king's counselor in the Book of Esther.] swung conspicuously on his gibbet; and Jonah appeared most manfully leaping from the whale's mouth, like Harlequin [Footnote: Harlequin: the clown in early Italian and later French comedy.] through a barrel of fire.
The parties broke up without noise and without confusion. They were carried home by their own carriages, that is to say, by the vehicles nature had provided them, excepting such of the wealthy as could afford to keep a wagon.
[Footnote: Are there any parts of the country where the traditions of the "best parlor" are still kept? Does the early life in New York appear to you attractive or uninteresting? Does the description seem like ridicule? The descendants of the old Dutch families resented Irving's way of making fun of their ancestors. Point out passages which might justify this complaint. Compare this sketch with "A Pine Tree Shilling" in the style of writing, method of description, and humor.]
THE BAZAAR IN MOROCCO
How can I describe the swarming crowds of the bazaar, the constant, noiseless stir of all those bournouses [Footnote: Bournouses: cf. "An Arab Fisherman."] in the semi-darkness! The little labyrinthine avenues cross each other in every direction, covered with their ancient roofing of wood, or else with trellises of cane, over which grape-vines are trained. Fronting on these passages are the shops, something like holes in a wall as regards size, and in them the turbaned dealers sit squatted, stately and impassible, among their rare knick-knacks. Shops where the same kind of goods are sold are grouped in quarters by themselves. There is the street of the dealers in clothing, where the booths are bright with pink, blue, and orange silks, and with brocades of gold and silver, and where ladies, veiled and draped like phantoms, are posted. There is the street of the leather merchants, where thousands of sets of harness of every conceivable color, for horses, mules, and asses, are hanging from the walls; there are all sorts of objects of strange and ancient fashion for use in the chase or in war: powder-horns inlaid with gold and silver, embroidered belts for sword and musket, travelling bags for caravans and amulets [Footnote: Amulets: ornaments worn as a charm against evil.] to charm away the dangers of the desert. Then there is the street of the workers in brass, where from morning till night is heard the sound of hammers at work on the arabesques [Footnote: Arabesques: a kind of low-relief carving of man and animal figures fantastically interlaced.] of vases and plates; the street of the papooch embroiderers, where all the little dens are filled with velvet, pearls and gold; the street of the furniture decorators; that of the naked, grimy blacksmiths; that of the dyers, with purple or indigo-bedaubed arms, Finally, the quarter of the armorers, who make long flint-lock muskets, thin as cane-stalks, the silver inlaid butt of which is made excessively large so as to receive the shoulder. The Moroccans [Footnote: The Moroccans ... in this country. What similar statement was made in "An Arab Fisherman"?] never have the slightest idea of changing the form adopted by their ancestors, and the shape of their musket is as immutable as all things else are in this country; it seems like a dream to see them at this day making such quantities of these old-fashioned arms.
A stifled hum of unceasing activity arises from the mass of people, clad in their gray woolen robes, thus congregated from afar to buy and sell all sorts of queer small objects. There are sorcerers performing their incantations; bands of armed men dancing the war-dance, with firing of guns, to the sound of the tambourines and the wailing pipes; beggars exposing their sores; negro slaves wheeling their loads; asses rolling in the dust. The ground, of the same grayish shade as the multitude upon it, is covered with all kinds of filth: animal refuse, chicken feathers, dead mice; and the crowd tread down the revolting mass under their trailing slippers.
How far removed is all this life from ours! The activity of this people is as foreign to us as its stagnation and its slumberousness. An indifference which I cannot explain, a disregard of everything, to us quite unknown, characterized these burnous-clad folk even in their greatest stir and bustle. The cowled heads of the men and the veiled heads of the women are occupied by one unchanging dream, even in the midst of their bargaining; five times a day they offer up their prayer, and their thoughts turn, to the exclusion of all besides, upon eternity and death. You will see squalid beggars with the eyes of an inspired man; ragged fellows who have noble attitudes and faces of prophets.
People of all the different tribes meet and mingle promiscuously among themselves. Negroes from the Soudan [Footnote: Soudan: the region south of the Sahara Desert.] and light-colored Arabs: Mussulmans [Footnote: Mussulmans: Mohammedans.] without conviction of the faith, whose women veil only their mouths; and the green-turbaned Derkaouas, merciless fanatics, who turn their heads and spit upon the ground at the sight of a Christian. Every day the "Holy woman," with wild eyes and vermilion-painted cheeks, is to be seen prophesying in some public place. And the "Holy man," too, who is incessantly walking like the wandering Jew, always in a hurry and all the while mumbling his prayers.
What queer old jewelry finds a market in Mequinez! [Footnote: Mequinez (Mekinez): a city not far from Fez.] When could the things ever have been new?—There is not one which has not an air of extreme antiquity; old rings for wrists or ankles, worn smooth by centuries of rubbing against human flesh; great clasps for fastening veils; little old silver bottles with coral pendants to hold the black dye with which the eyes are painted, with hooks to fasten them at the belt; boxes to enclose Korans, [Footnote: Korans: the Koran is the sacred book of the Mohammedans.] carved in arabesques and bearing Solomon's seal; old necklaces of gold sequins, defaced by wear on the necks of women long since dead; and quantities of those large trefoils [Footnote: Trefoil: a shape similar to that of the clover leaf.] in hammered silver, enclosing a green stone, which are hung about the neck to avert the bad effect of the evil-eye. These things are all spread out on little dirty worm-eaten tables, in front of the squatting merchants, in the little dens in the old walls.
The bazaar is very near the Jewish quarter, and several of that race, knowing us to be here, come and offer us trinkets, bracelets, quaint old rings and emerald earrings,—things which they take from the pockets of their black robes with furtive airs, after having cast distrustful looks around. We are also approached by the dealers in the fine woolen rugs and carpets of R'bat, which they throw upon the ground, among the dust, refuse, and bones, to show us the rare designs and splendid colors of their wares.
The sun is getting low; it is time for us to end our bargaining, which has not been conducted without some wrangling, and to leave the sacred city which we are to behold no more, and betake ourselves to our tents.
Before passing the last gate of the enclosure, we halt in a sort of small bazaar, of whose existence we were not previously aware. It is that of the bric-a-brac merchants, and the Lord only knows what queer oddities this kind of shop can display. Ancient arms constitute the principal stock in trade; rusty yataghans, long Souss muskets; then old leather amulets for war or for the chase; ridiculous powder-horns, and also musical instruments; guitars covered with snake-skin, pipes and tambourines. To keep the rubbish which they are selling in countenance, no doubt, the dealers are mostly all broken-down, worn-out, old men.
Undoubtedly the people in this bazaar are very poor and have need to sell their goods, for they crowd around us and press us with their wares. We make several surprising bargains. As the sky grows yellow and the cold breeze of sunset springs up, we are still there, near the lonely gate, beneath the branches of the old trees.
[Footnote: Pierre Loti is the nom-de-plume of a well-known French writer. His real name is Louis Marie Julien Viaud, and he is an officer in the French army. His work is particularly celebrated for the vividness and brilliancy of his descriptions. He has described scenes in Africa, India, China, and on the ocean. One of his best books is "An Iceland Fisherman."]
[Footnote: Select some of the best examples of minute detail in the descriptions. Note the use of color, form, and smell. How has the author contrasted the civilizations of East and West? Notice how the rapid enumeration of objects gives the effect of passing through the bazaar. Why would a painter find it easy to paint a picture from these written descriptions? What things are sold in the bazaar that show the Eastern skill in handicraft? that show superstition? What contrasts between beauty and sordidness are made in the descriptions?]
A BATTLE OF THE ANTS
One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips incessantly. Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a "duellum," but a "bellum," [Footnote: Duellum ... bellum: war.] a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black. The legions of these Myrmidons [Footnote: Myrmidons: a fierce tribe that accompanied Achilles, their king, to the Trojan War.] covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I had ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine [Footnote: Internecine: mutually destructive.] war; the red republicans on the one hand and the black imperialists on the other hand. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely. I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other's embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips; now at noon-day prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out. The smaller red champion had fastened himself like a vice to his adversary's front, and through all the tumblings on that field never for an instant ceased to gnaw at one of his feelers near the root, having already caused the other to go by the board; while the stronger black one dashed him from side to side, and, as I saw on looking nearer, had already divested him of several of his members. They fought with more pertinacity [Footnote: Pertinacity: persistency, obstinacy.] than bull-dogs. Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat. It was evident that their battle-cry was Conquer or die. In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement, who either had dispatched his foe, or had not yet taken part in the battle; probably the latter, for he had lost none of his limbs; whose mother had charged him to return with his shield or upon it. [Footnote: Return with his shield or upon it. What is the allusion? See Brewer's Reader's Handbook under "Spartan Mother."] He drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operations near the root of his right fore-leg, leaving the foe to select among his own members; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame. I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants. I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference.
I took up the chip on which the three I have particularly described were struggling, carried it into my house, and placed it under a tumbler on my window-sill, in order to see the issue. Holding a microscope to the first-mentioned red ant, I saw that, though he was assiduously [Footnote: Assiduously: diligently, laboriously.] gnawing at the near foreleg of his enemy, having severed his remaining feeler, his own breast was all torn away, exposing what vitals he had there to the jaws of the black warrior, whose breast-plate was apparently too thick for him to pierce; and the dark carbuncles of the sufferer's eyes shone with ferocity such as war only could excite. They struggled half an hour longer under the tumbler, and when I looked again the black soldier had severed the heads of his foes from their bodies, and the still living heads were hanging on either side of him like ghastly trophies at his saddle-bow, still apparently as firmly fastened as ever, and he was endeavoring with feeble struggles, being without feelers and with only the remnant of a leg, and I know not how many other wounds, to divest himself of them; which at length, after half an hour more, he accomplished. I raised the glass, and he went off over the window-sill in that crippled state. Whether he finally survived that combat, and spent the remainder of his days in some Hotel des Invalides, [Footnote: Hotel des Invalides: an establishment founded in 1670 at Paris for disabled and infirm soldiers. It contains military trophies and paintings, and a remarkable collection of armor.] I do not know; but I thought that his industry would not be worth much thereafter. I never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war; but I felt for the rest of that day as if I had had my feelings excited and harrowed by witnessing the struggle, the ferocity and carnage, of a human battle before my door.
[Footnote: What things in the account of the battle show that the writer is a trained observer? Does it add to the interest of the battle to attribute human qualities to the combatants? Why? What touches of humor do you find in the description? Does the author show a sympathetic attitude toward war? Illustrate. What do you know of Thoreau's life at Walden Pond?]
AN AFRICAN PET
Toward twelve o'clock, when we were crossing a kind of high table-land, we heard the cry of a young animal, which we all recognized to be a nshiego mbouve. [Footnote: Nshiego mbouve: a species of ape.] Then all my troubles at once went away out of mind, and I no longer felt either sick or hungry.
We crawled through the bush as silently as possible, still hearing the baby-like cry. At last, coming out into a little cleared space, we saw something running along the ground toward where we stood concealed. When it came nearer, we saw it was a female nshiego running on all fours, with a young one clinging to her breasts. She was eagerly eating some berries, and with one arm supported her little one.
Querlaouen, who had the fairest chance, fired, and brought her down. She dropped without a struggle. The poor little one cried, "Hew! hew! hew!" and clung to the dead body, burying its head there in its alarm at the report of the gun.
We hurried up in great glee to secure our capture. I cannot tell my surprise when I saw that the nshiego baby's face was pure white—very white indeed—pallid, but as white as a white child's.
I looked at the mother, but found her black as soot in the face. The little one was about a foot in height. One of the men threw a cloth over its head and secured it till we could make it fast with a rope; for, though it was quite young, it could walk. The old one was of the bald-headed kind, of which I had secured the first known specimen some months before.
I immediately ordered a return to the camp, which we reached toward evening. The little nshiego had been all this time separated from its dead mother, and now when it was put near her body, a most touching scene ensued. The little fellow ran instantly to her, but, touching her on the face and breast, saw evidently that some great change had happened. For a few minutes he caressed her, as though trying to coax her back to life. Then he seemed to lose all hope. His little eyes became very sad, and he broke out in a long, plaintive wail, "Ooee! ooee! ooee!" which made my heart ache for him. He looked quite forlorn, and as though he really felt his forsaken lot. The whole camp was touched at his sorrows, and the women were especially moved.
All this time I stood wonderingly staring at the white face of the creature. It was really marvelous, and quite incomprehensible; and a more strange and weird-looking animal I never saw.
While I stood there, up came two of my hunters and began to laugh at me. "Look, Chelly," said they, calling me by the name I was known by among them; "look at your friend. Every time we kill gorilla, you tell us look at your black friend. Now, you see, look at your white friend." Then came a roar at what they thought a tremendous joke.
"Look! he got straight hair, all same as you. See white face of your cousin from the bush! He is nearer to you than gorilla is to us!" And another roar.
"Gorilla no got woolly hair like we. This one straight hair, like you." "Yes," said I, "but when he gets old his face is black; and do you not see his nose, how flat it is, like yours?"
Whereat there was a louder laugh than before; for so long as he can laugh, the negro cares little against whom the joke goes. I may as well add here some particulars of the little fellow who excited all this surprise and merriment. He lived five months, and became as tame and docile as a cat. I called him Tommy, to which name he soon began to answer.
In three days after his capture he was quite tame. He then ate crackers out of my hand; ate boiled rice and roasted plantains; [Footnote: Plantain: a fruit which closely resembles the banana.] and drank milk of a goat. Two weeks after his capture he was perfectly tamed, and no longer required to be tied up. He ran about the camp, and, when he went back to Obindij's town, found his way about the village and into the huts just as though he had been raised there.
He had a great affection for me, and used constantly to follow me about. When I sat down, he was not content till he had climbed upon me and hid his head in my breast. He was extremely fond of being petted and fondled, and would sit by the hour while any one stroked his head or back.
He soon began to be a very great thief. When the people left their huts he would steal in and make off with their plantains or fish. He watched very carefully till all had left the house, and it was difficult to catch him in the act. I flogged him several times, and, indeed, brought him to the conviction that it was wrong to steal; but he could never resist the temptation.
From me he stole constantly. He soon found out that my hut was better furnished with ripe bananas and other fruit than any other; and also he discovered that the best time to steal from me was when I was asleep in the morning. At that time he used to crawl in on his tiptoes, move slyly toward my bed, look at my closed eyes, and, if he saw no movement, with an air of great relief go up and pluck several plantains. If I stirred in the least he was off like a flash, and would presently reenter for another inspection. If my eyes were open when he came in on such a predatory [Footnote: Predatory: plundering.] trip, he at once came up to me with an honest face, and climbed on and caressed me. But I could easily detect an occasional wishful glance toward the bunch of plantains.
My hut had no door, but was closed with a mat, and it was very funny to see Tommy gently raising one corner of this mat to see if I was asleep. Sometimes I counterfeited sleep, and then stirred just as he was in the act of taking off his prize. Then he would drop everything, and make off in the utmost consternation.
He kept the run of mealtimes, and was present at as many meals as possible; that is, he would go from my breakfast to half a dozen others, and beg something at each. But he never missed my breakfast and dinner, knowing by experience that he fared best there. I had a kind of rude table made, on which my meals were served in the open part of my house. This was too high for Tommy to see the dishes; so he used to come in before I sat down, when all was ready, and climb up on the pole which supported the roof. From here he attentively surveyed every dish on the table, and having determined what to have, he would descend and sit down at my side.
If I did not immediately pay attention to him, he began to howl, "Hew! hew! hew!" louder and louder, till, for peace's sake, his wants were satisfied. Of course, I could not tell what he had chosen for dinner of my different dishes, and would offer him first one, then another, till the right one came. If he received what he did not want, he threw it down on the ground with a little shriek of anger and a stamp of his foot; and this was repeated till he was served to his liking. In short, he behaved very much like a badly spoiled child.
If I pleased him quickly, he thanked me by a kind of gentle murmur, like "hooboo," and would hold out his hand to shake mine. He was very fond of boiled meat,—particularly boiled fish,—and was constantly picking bones he picked up about the town. He wanted always to taste of my coffee, and, when Makondai brought it, would beg of me, in the most serious manner, for some.
I made him a little pillow to sleep on, and this he was very fond of. When he was once accustomed to it he never parted from it more, but dragged it after him wherever he went. If by any chance it was lost, the whole camp knew it by his howls; and sometimes I had to send people to look for it when he had mislaid it on some forest excursion, so that he would stop his noise. He slept on it always, coiled up into a little heap, and only relinquished it when I gave him permission to accompany me into the woods.
As he became more and more used to our ways, he became more impatient of contradiction and more fond of being caressed; and whenever he was thwarted he howled in his disagreeable way. As the dry season came on, it became colder, and Tommy began to wish for company when he slept, to keep him warm. The negroes would not have him for a companion, for he was for them too much like one of themselves. I would not give him room near me. So poor Tommy was reduced to misery, as he seemed to think. But soon I found that he waited till everybody was fast asleep at night, and then crawled in softly next some of his black friends, and slept there till earliest dawn. Then he would up and away undiscovered. Several times he was caught and beaten, but he always tried it again.
He had a great deal of intelligence; and if I had had leisure I think I might have trained him to some kind of good behavior, though I despaired of his thieving disposition. He lived so long, and was growing so accustomed to civilized life, that I began to have great hopes of being able to carry him to America. But alas! poor Tommy. One morning he refused his food, seemed downcast, and was very anxious to be petted and held in the arms. I got all kinds of forest berries for him, but he refused all. He did not seem to suffer, but ate nothing; and the next day, without a struggle, died. Poor fellow! I was very sorry, for he had grown to be quite a pet companion for me; and even the negroes, though he had given them great trouble, were sorry at his death.
—PAUL B. DU CHAILLU.
[Footnote: Paul du Chaillu was born in Paris in 1835. At the age of sixteen he made some exploratory tours around his father's trading station in West Africa, and in 1855 he came to America, where he made his home. Later he undertook a botanic and zoologic exploration to Africa which lasted for four years.]
[Footnote: What qualities of "Tommy" endeared him to his captors? Do you know whether the monkey family is capable of the training which the author hoped to give to his pet? Does the author succeed in making you like or dislike "Tommy"? What human qualities does "Tommy" show? Does this story seem to justify a belief in the origin of species? Could you infer anything about the writer's character from this sketch?]
The long-tailed cows of the Lama [Footnote: Lama: a priest or monk of Thibet and Mongolia who professes Lamaism, a kind of Buddhism.] herdsmen, they say, are so restive and difficult to milk, that, to keep them at all quiet, the herdsman has to give them a calf to lick meanwhile. But for this device not a single drop of milk could be obtained from them. One day a herdsman, who lived in the same house with ourselves, came, with a dismal face, to announce that the new-born calf of a favorite cow was dying. It died in the course of the day. The Lama forthwith skinned the poor beast and stuffed it with hay. This proceeding surprised us at first, for the Lama had by no means the air of a man likely to give himself the luxury of a cabinet of natural history. When the operation was completed we found that the hay-calf had neither feet nor head; whereupon it occurred to us that, after all, perhaps it was a pillow that the Lama contemplated. We were in error; but the error was not dissipated till the next morning, when our herdsman went to milk his cow. Seeing him issue forth, the pail in one hand and the hay-calf under the other arm, the fancy occurred to us to follow him. His first proceeding was to put the hay-calf down before the cow; he then turned to milk the cow herself. The mother cow at first opened enormous eyes at her beloved infant; by degrees she stooped her head towards it, then smelt it, sneezed three or four times, and at last began to lick it with the most delightful tenderness.
This spectacle grated against our sensibilities; it seemed to us that he who first invented this parody [Footnote: Parody: a burlesque or mimicking of something, usually written.] upon one of the most touching incidents in nature must have been a man without a heart. A somewhat burlesque circumstance occurred one day to modify the indignation with which this treachery inspired us. By dint of caressing and licking her little calf, the tender parent one fine morning unripped it; the hay issued from within, and the cow, manifesting not the slightest surprise or agitation, proceeded tranquilly to devour the unexpected provender. [Footnote: Provender: food, provisions.]
Poor, simple-minded old cow! But let us laugh at her in the right place. That she should fail to distinguish between the dead bundle and her living offspring is surprising. But being deceived, why should she think it odd to find hay inside? Ignorant of anatomy and physiology, she knows nothing about insides. Had she considered the matter—and it doesn't fall in the line of bovine rumination [Footnote: Bovine rumination: chewing a cud.]—she would doubtless have expected to find in her calf not hay but condensed milk. But if not milk, why not hay? She was well acquainted with the process of putting hay inside, why therefore should she be surprised to find hay inside? But of course she had never bothered her dear sleepy old head about any matter of the sort. And the moral is that we must not expect to find in animals that kind of intelligence which has no bearing whatever upon the life that they lead.
* * * * *
In Scandinavia, as elsewhere, the bear is sometimes domesticated, and if taken young becomes quite tame, and is gentle in its disposition. It is not well, however, to annoy even a well-disposed bear; for Bruin, like the rest of us, resents practical jokes of too unpleasant a nature. A Swedish peasant had one who used to stand on the back of his sledge when he was on a journey, and the beast had so good a balance that it was next to impossible to upset him. One day, however, the peasant amused himself with driving over the very worst ground he could find with the intention, if possible, of throwing the bear off his balance. In this he succeeded, but not in the manner he expected. The bear retained his balance of body, but lost his balance of mind, becoming so irritated that he fetched his master, who was in front of him, a tremendous thump on the shoulder, which frightened the man so much that he had poor Bruin killed immediately.
An American writer gives another instance of ursine [Footnote: Ursine: pertaining to a bear.] irritability. A friend of his would persist in practising the flute near his tame black bear. Bruin bore this in silence for a while, went so far indeed as himself to try and play the flute on his favorite stick; but at last he could stand it no longer, and one morning knocked the flutist's tall hat over his eyes. If any act of retribution is justifiable this was. To practise the flute anywhere within earshot is annoying; to do so in a tall hat would be simply exasperating.
It would be easy to fill a small volume with anecdotes of captive bears. They would show that Bruin is not so stupid as he is sometimes painted, even if they did not altogether justify the Swedish saying that the bear unites the wit of one man with the strength of ten. Frank Buckland's bear, Tiglath Pileser, was cute enough to know where to find the sweet stuff, of which he, in common with his race, was so inordinately fond; for one day when he had broken his chains he was found in a small grocer's shop seated on the counter, and helping himself with liberal paw to brown sugar and lollipops, to the no small discomfort of the good woman who kept the shop. A black bear in America had a weakness for chickens. His master noticed the thinning of the poultry yard, and suspicion fell on Bruin owing to the feathers which lay round his pole. They could not catch him in the act however. He was too sharp for that, and if disturbed, when he had but half demolished [Footnote: Demolished: destroyed.] a pullet he would hastily sit on the remainder and look as innocent as could be. He was discovered at last, however, by the cackling of a tough old hen which he had failed to silence.
—LLOYD MORGAN (adapted).
[Footnote: Do the incidents related seem real or exaggerated? Has the author used the element of surprise effectively? Illustrate. Would you judge that the writer was a scientist? Why?]
BUCK'S TRIAL OF STRENGTH
John Thornton, owner of the dog, Buck, had said that Buck could draw a sled loaded with one thousand pounds of flour. Another miner bet sixteen hundred dollars that he couldn't, and Thornton, though fearing it would be too much for Buck, was ashamed to refuse; so he let Buck try to draw a load that Matthewson's team of ten dogs had been hauling.
The team of ten dogs was unhitched, and Buck, with his own harness, was put into the sled. He had felt the general excitement, and he felt that in some way he must do a great thing for John Thornton. Murmurs of admiration at his splendid appearance went up. He was in perfect condition, without an ounce of superfluous [Footnote: Superfluous: unnecessary.] flesh, and the one hundred and fifty pounds that he weighed were so many pounds of grit and virility. His furry coat shone with the sheen of silk. Down the neck and across the shoulders, his mane, in repose as it was, half bristled and seemed to lift with every movement, as though excess of vigor made each particular hair alive and active. The great breast and heavy forelegs were no more than in proportion with the rest of the body, where the muscles showed in tight rolls underneath the skin. Men felt these muscles and proclaimed them hard as iron, and the odds went down two to one.
"Sir, sir," stuttered a member of the latest dynasty, [Footnote: Dynasty: race or succession of kings.] a king of the Skookum Benches. "I offer you eight hundred for him, sir, before the test, sir; eight hundred just as he stands."
Thornton shook his head and stepped to Buck's side.
"You must stand off from him," Matthewson protested. "Free play and plenty of room."
The crowd fell silent; only could be heard the voices of the gamblers vainly offering two to one. Everybody acknowledged Buck a magnificent animal, but twenty fifty-pound sacks of flour bulked too large in their eyes for them to loosen their pouch-strings.
Thornton knelt down by Buck's side. He took his head into his two hands and rested cheek on cheek. He did not playfully shake him, as he was wont, or murmur soft love curses; but he whispered in his ear. "As you love me, Buck. As you love me," [Footnote: As you love me, Buck. Compare this incident with the words whispered to his horse by the rider in Browning's "Ghent to Aix."] was what he whispered. Buck whined with suppressed eagerness.
The crowd was watching curiously. The affair was growing mysterious. It seemed like a conjuration. [Footnote: Conjuration: an invoking of supernatural aid.] As Thornton got to his feet, Buck seized his mittened hand between his jaws, pressing in with his teeth and releasing slowly, half-reluctantly. It was the answer, in terms, not of speech, but of love. Thornton stepped well back.
"Now, Buck," he said.
Buck tightened the traces, then slacked them for a matter of several inches. It was the way he had learned.
"Gee!" Thornton's voice rang out, sharp in the tense silence.
Buck swung to the right, ending the movement in a plunge that took up the slack, and, with a sudden jerk, arrested his one hundred and fifty pounds. The load quivered, and from under the runners arose a crisp crackling.
"Haw!" Thornton commanded.
Buck duplicated the maneuver, [Footnote: Maneuver: dexterous movement.] this time to the left. The crackling turned into a snapping, the sled pivoting and the runners slipping and grating several inches to the side.
The sled was broken out. Men were holding their breaths, intensely unconscious of the fact. "Now, Mush!"
Thornton's command cracked out like a pistol shot. Buck threw himself forward, tightening the traces with a jarring lunge. His whole body was gathered tightly together in a tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like live things under the silky fur. His great chest was low to the ground, his head forward and down, while his feet were flying like mad, the claws scarring the hard-packed snow in grooves. The sled swayed and trembled, half-started forward. One of his feet slipped, and one man groaned aloud. Then the sled lurched ahead in what appeared a rapid succession of jerks, though it really never came to a dead stop again—half an inch—an inch—two inches. The jerks became less as the sled gained momentum, he caught them up, till it was moving steadily along.
Men gasped and began to breathe again, unaware that for a moment they had ceased to breathe. Thornton was running behind, encouraging Buck with short, cheery words. The distance had been measured off, and as he neared the pile of firewood which marked the end of the hundred yards, a cheer began to grow and grow, which burst into a roar as he passed the firewood and halted at command. Every man was tearing himself loose, even Matthewson, who had lost his wager. Hats and mittens were flying in the air. Men were shaking hands, it did not matter with whom, and bubbling over in a general incoherent babel. But Thornton fell on his knees beside Buck. Head was against head, and he was shaking him back and forth.
"I'll give you a thousand for him, sir, a thousand," sputtered the Skookum Bench king, "twelve hundred, sir."
Thornton rose to his feet. His eyes were wet. The tears were streaming frankly down his cheeks. "Sir," he said to the Skookum Bench king, "no, sir. You can hold your tongue, sir. It's the best I can do for you, sir."
Buck seized Thornton's hand in his teeth. Thornton shook him back and forth. As though moved by a common feeling, the onlookers drew back to a respectful distance; nor did they again interrupt.
[Footnote: Notice the simple direct style of writing. Why does the writer dwell on the physical fitness of Buck? Does the understanding between Buck and his master seem unusual? What glimpses of the character of the miners does the story give you? Show how the element of suspense adds to the dramatic force of the story. What is the most interesting point in the narrative?]
ON THE SOLANDER WHALING GROUND
A bright sunny morning; the gentle north-easterly breeze just keeping the sails full as the lumbering whaling-barque "Splendid" dips jerkily to the old southerly swell. Astern, the blue hills around Preservation Inlet [Footnote: Preservation Inlet ... Solander (island) ... Foveaux (strait) ... Stewart Island: places situated on or near the southern end of New Zealand.] lie shimmering in the soft spring sunlight, and on the port beam the mighty pillar of the Solander Rock, lying off the south-western extremity of the New Zealand, is sharply outlined against the steel-blue sky. Far beyond that stern sentinel, the converging shores of Foveaux Strait are just discernible in dim outline through a low haze. Ahead the jagged and formidable rocks of Stewart Island, bathed in a mellow golden glow, give no hint of their terrible appearance what time the Storm-fiend of the south-west cries havoc and urges on his chariot of war.
The keen-eyed Kanaka [Footnote: Kanaka: a native of the Sandwich Islands.] in the fore crow's nest [Footnote: Crow's nest: a perch near the top of the mast to shelter the man on the lookout.] shades his eyes with his hand, peering earnestly out on the weather bow at something which has attracted his attention. A tiny plume of vapor rises from the blue hollows about ten miles away, but so faint and indefinable that it may be only a breaking wavelet's crest caught by the cross wind. Again that little bushy jet breaks the monotony of the sea; but this time there is no mistaking it. Emerging diagonally from the water, not high and thin, but low and spreading, it is an infallible indication to those piercing eyes of the presence of a sperm-whale. The watcher utters a long, low musical cry, "Blo-o-o-o-w," which penetrates the gloomy recesses of the fo'ksle [Footnote: Fo'ksle: the forward part of the vessel, under the deck, where the sailors live.] and cuddy, [Footnote: Cuddy: small cabin.] where the slumberers immediately engage in fierce conflict with whales of a size never seen by waking eyes. The officer and white seamen at the main now take up the cry, and in a few seconds all hands are swiftly yet silently preparing to leave the ship. She is put about, making a course which shortly brings her a mile or two to windward of the slowly-moving cachalot. Now it is evident that no solitary whale is in sight, but a great school, gambolling in the bright spray. One occasionally, in pure exuberance of its tremendous vitality, springs twenty feet into the clear air, and falls, a hundred tons of massive flesh, with earthquake-like commotion, back into the sea.
Having got the weather-gage, the boats are lowered; sail is immediately set, and, like swift huge-winged birds, they swoop down upon the prey. Driving right upon the back of the nearest monster, two harpoons are plunged into his body up to the "hitches." [Footnote: Hitches: a knot or noose that can be readily undone.] The sheet [Footnote: Sheet: the rope that regulates the angle of the sail.] is at once hauled aft, [Footnote: Hauled aft: hauled toward the stern of the ship.] and the boat flies up into the wind; while the terrified cetacean [Footnote: Cetacean: marine mammal.] vainly tries, by tremendous writhing and plunging, to rid himself of the barbed weapon. The mast is unshipped, and preparation made to deliver the coup de grace. [Footnote: Coup de grace: the decisive, finishing stroke.] But finding his efforts futile, the whale has sounded, and his reappearance must be awaited. Two boats' lines are taken out before the slackening comes, and he slowly rises again. Faster and faster the line comes in; the blue depths turn a creamy white, and it is "Stern all" for dear life. Up he comes, with jaws gaping twenty feet wide, gleaming teeth and livid, cavernous throat glittering in the brilliant light. But the boat's crew are seasoned hands, to whom this dread sight is familiar, and orders are quietly obeyed, the boat backing, circling and darting ahead like a sentient thing under their united efforts. So the infuriated mammal is baffled and dodged, while thrust after thrust of the long lances are got home, and streamlets of blood trickling over the edges of his spouthole give warning that the end is near. A few wild circlings at tremendous speed, jaws clashing and blood foaming in torrents from the spiracle, [Footnote: Spiracle: the nostril of a whale.] one mighty leap into the air, and the ocean monarch is dead. He lies just awash, gently undulated by the long, low swell, one pectoral fin slowly waving like some great stray leaf of Fucus gigantea. [Footnote: Fucus gigantea: fucus is a kind of tough seaweed.] A hole is cut through the fluke and the line secured to it. The ship, which has been working to windward during the conflict, runs down and receives the line; and in a short time the great inert mass is hauled alongside and secured by the fluke [Footnote: Fluke: one of the lobes of a whale's tail.] chain.
The vessel, bound to that immense body, can only crawl tortoise-like before the wind—lucky, indeed, to have a harbor ahead where the whale may be cut in, even though it be forty miles away. Without that refuge available, she could not hope to keep the sea and hold her prize through the wild weather, now so near. The breeze is freshening fast, and all sail is made for Port William. So slow is the progress, that it is past midnight before that snug shelter is reached, although for the last four hours the old ship is terribly tried and strained by the press of sail carried to such a gale.
[Footnote: Show how the rapid action in the narrative makes it more dramatic. Why does the danger of the enterprise take so small a part in the narrative? Can you characterize this kind of description?]
AN EPISODE OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.
But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses' bridles.
"What has gone wrong?" said Monsieur, calmly looking out.
A tall man in a nightcap had caught up a bundle from among the feet of horses, and had laid it on the basement of the fountain, and was down in the mud and wet, howling over it like a wild animal.
"Pardon, Monsieur the Marquis!" said a ragged and submissive man, "it is a child."
"Why does he make that abominable noise? Is it his child?"
"Excuse me, Monsieur the Marquis—it is a pity—yes."
The fountain was a little removed; for the street opened, where it was, into a space some ten or twelve yards square. As the tall man suddenly got up from the ground, and came running at the carriage, Monsieur the Marquis clapped his hand for an instant on his sword hilt.
"Killed!" shrieked the man, in wild desperation, extending both arms at their length above his head, and staring at him. "Dead!"
The people closed round, and looked at Monsieur the Marquis. There was nothing revealed by the many eyes that looked at him but watchfulness and eagerness; there was no visible menacing or anger. Neither did the people say anything; after the first cry, they had been silent, and they remained so. The voice of the submissive man who had spoken, was flat and tame in its extreme submission. Monsieur the Marquis ran his eyes over them all, as if they had been mere rats come out of their holes.
He took out his purse.
"It is extraordinary to me," said he, "that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that."
He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up, and all the heads craned forward that all the eyes might look down at it as it fell. The tall man called out again with a most unearthly cry. "Dead!"
He was arrested by the quick arrival of another man, for whom the rest made way. On seeing him, the miserable creature fell upon his shoulder, sobbing and crying, and pointing to the fountain, where some women were stooping over the motionless bundle, and moving gently about it. They were as silent, however, as the men.
"I know all, I know all," said the last comer. "Be a brave man, my Gaspard! It is better for the poor little plaything to die so, than to live. It has died in a moment without pain. Could it have lived an hour as happily?"
"You are a philosopher, you there," said the Marquis, smiling. "How do they call you?"
"They call me Defarge."
"Of what trade?"
"Monsieur the Marquis, vendor [Footnote: Vendor: seller.] of wine."
"Pick up that, philosopher and vendor of wine," said the Marquis, throwing him another gold coin, "and spend it as you will. The horses there; are they right?"
Without deigning to look at the assemblage a second time, Monsieur the Marquis leaned back in his seat, and was just being driven away with the air of a gentleman who had accidentally broke some common thing, and had paid for it, and could afford to pay for it; when his case was suddenly disturbed by a coin flying into his carriage, and ringing on its floor.
"Hold!" said Monsieur the Marquis. "Hold the horses! Who threw that?"
He looked to the spot where Defarge the vendor of wine had stood a moment before; but the wretched father was grovelling on his face on the pavement in that spot, and the figure that stood beside him was the figure of a dark stout woman, knitting.
"You dogs!" said the Marquis, but smoothly, and with an unchanged front, except as to the spots on his nose; "I would ride over any of you very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels."
So cowed was their condition, and so long and hard their experience of what such a man could do to them, within the law and beyond it, that not a voice or a hand, or even an eye was raised. Among the men, not one. But the woman who stood knitting looked up steadily, and looked the Marquis in the face. It was not for his dignity to notice it; his contemptuous eyes passed over her, and over all the other rats; and he leaned back in his seat again, and gave the word "Go on!"
[Footnote: What things are contrasted in the story? Does the incident seem probable from what you know of the period? Can you give any instances from history or fiction to show the attitude of the French aristocracy before the Revolution? Do you know what happened to the Marquis in the "Tale of Two Cities"? Compare the condition of the people in this episode with those in a "Leaf in the Storm."]
THE COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL
These events are succeeded by a few moments of silent waiting. Then suddenly the long lines of soldiers vibrate under a thrill of religious awe; the band, with its great basses and its drums, strikes up a deafening, mournful air. The fifty little black slaves run, run as if their lives were at stake, deploying [Footnote: Deploying: unfolding, opening out.] from their base like the sticks of a fan, resembling bees swarming, or a flock of birds. And yonder, in the shadowy light of the ogive, [Footnote: Ogive: the arch which crosses a Gothic vault diagonally.] upon which all eyes are turned, there appears a tall, brown-faced mannikin, all veiled in white muslin, mounted on a splendid white horse led in hand by four slaves; over his head is held an umbrella of antique form, such an one as must have protected the Queen of Sheba, [Footnote: Queen of Sheba: the queen who came to test the wisdom of Solomon.] and two gigantic negroes, one in pink, the other in blue, wave fly-flaps around the person of the sovereign.
While the strange mannikin, or mummy, almost shapeless, but majestic notwithstanding in his robes of snowy white, is advancing towards us, the music, as if exasperated to madness, wails louder and louder and in a shriller key; it strikes up a slow and distressful religious air, the time of which is accentuated by a frightful beating of the bass-drums. The mannikin's horse rears wildly, restrained with difficulty by the four black slaves, and this music, so mournful and so strange to us, affects our nerves with an indescribable agonizing sensation.
Here, at last, drawn up close beside us, stands this last authentic descendant of Mahomet, crossed with Nubian blood. His attire, of the finest mousseline-de-laine, is of immaculate whiteness. His charger, too, is entirely white, his great stirrups are of gold, and his saddle and equipments are of a very pale green silk, lightly embroidered in a still paler shade of green. The slaves who hold his horse, the one who carries the great red umbrella, and the two—the pink and blue ones—who shake napkins in the monarch's face to drive away imaginary flies, are all herculean negroes whose countenances are wrinkled into fierce smiles; they are all old men, and their gray or white beards contrast with the blackness of their features. This ceremonial of a bygone age harmonizes with the wailing music, and could not suit better the huge walls around us, which rear their crumbling summits high in the air.
This man, who thus presents himself before us with the surroundings which I have described, is the last faithful exponent of a religion, a civilization that is about to die. He is the personification, in fact, of ancient Islam. [Footnote: Islam: the religion of the Mohammedans.] What result can we expect to obtain from an embassy to such a man, who, together with his people, spends his life torpid and motionless among ancient dreams of humanity that have almost disappeared from the surface of the earth? There is not a single point on which we can understand each other; the distance between us is nearly that which would separate us from a caliph [Footnote: Caliph: the head of the Moslem state and defender of the faith.] of Cordova [Footnote: Cordova: a city of Spain. It is famous for its manufactures of leather and silverware. It contains many Moorish antiquities, and is celebrated for its cathedral—once a mosque.] or Bagdad [Footnote: Bagdad: a city of Mesopotamia on the Tigris. It was formerly a city of great importance, and was a celebrated centre of Arabic learning and civilization.] who should come to life again after a slumber of a thousand years. What do we wish to obtain from him, and why have we brought him forth from his impenetrable palace?
His brown, parchment-like face in its setting of white muslin, has regular and noble features; dull, expressionless eyes, the whites of which appear beneath the balls that are half concealed by the drooping lashes; his expression is that of exceeding melancholy, a supreme lassitude, a supreme ennui. He has an appearance of benignity, and is really kindhearted, according to what they say who know him. (If the people of Fez [Footnote: Fez: a city in northern Morocco.] are to be believed, he is even too much so—he does not chop off as many heads as he ought to for the holy cause of Islam.) But this kindheartedness, no doubt, is relative in degree, as was often the case with ourselves in the middle ages; a mildness which is not over-sensitive in the face of shedding blood when there is a necessity for it, nor in face of an array of human heads set up in a row over the fine gateway at the entrance to the palace. Assuredly he is not cruel; he could not be so with that gentle, sad expression. He punishes with severity sometimes, as his divine authority gives him the right to do, but it is said that he finds a still keener pleasure in pardoning. He is a priest and a warrior, and carries each of these characters perhaps to excess; feeling as deeply as a prophet the responsibility of his heavenly mission, chaste in the midst of his seraglio, [Footnote: Seraglio: a harem.] strict in his attention to onerous [Footnote: Onerous: burdensome.] religious observances, and hereditarily very much of a fanatic—he aims to form himself upon Mahomet [Footnote: Mahomet (Mohammed): the founder of Mohammedanism. Born about 570 in Mecca(?) and died in 632.] as perfectly as may be: all this, moreover, is legible in his eyes, upon his fine countenance, in the upright majesty of his bearing. He is a man whom we can neither understand nor judge in the times we live in, but he is surely a great man, a man of mark.
—PIERKE LOTI (adapted).
[Footnote: What things in the description would tell you that the scene was Oriental? What observations does the author make on the difference between East and West? As a spectator, what things would you find most interesting in the scene? Do you know why the author calls the Sultan's palace impenetrable? Why does the author think that his interview with the Sultan may be useless?]
I first heard of him among the sufferers on the Peninsula [Footnote: Peninsula: that part of Virginia between the York and James rivers.] after a battle there. Subsequently I saw him, time and again, in the Washington hospitals, or wending his way there, with basket or haversack [Footnote: Haversack: a bag in which a soldier carried his rations when on a march.] on his arm, and the strength of beneficence suffusing his face. His devotion surpassed the devotion of woman. It would take a volume to tell of his kindness, tenderness, and thoughtfulness.
Never shall I forget one night when I accompanied him on his rounds through a hospital filled with those wounded young Americans whose heroism he has sung in deathless numbers. There were three rows of cots, and each cot bore its man. When he appeared, in passing along, there was a smile of affection and welcome on every face, however wan, and his presence seemed to light up the place as it might be lighted by the presence of the God of Love. From cot to cot they called him, often in tremulous tones or in whispers; they embraced him; they touched his hand; they gazed at him. To one he gave a few words of cheer; for another he wrote a letter home; to others he gave an orange, a few comfits, [Footnote: Comfits: sweetmeats.] a cigar, a pipe and tobacco, a sheet of paper or a postage-stamp, all of which and many other things were in his capacious haversack. From another he would receive a dying message for mother, wife, or sweetheart; for another he would promise to go an errand; [Footnote: To go an errand. What is the usual form?] to another, some special friend very low, he would give a manly farewell kiss. He did things for them no nurse or doctor could do, and he seemed to leave a benediction [Footnote: Benediction: blessing.] at every cot as he passed along. The lights had gleamed for hours in the hospital that night before he left it, and, as he took his way towards the door, you could hear the voices of many a stricken hero calling, "Walt, Walt, Walt! come again! come again!"
He carried among them no sentimentalism nor moralizing; spoke not to any man of his "sins," but gave something good to eat, a buoying [Footnote: Buoying: enlivening, cheering.] word, or trifling gift and a look. He appeared with ruddy face, clean dress, with a flower or a green sprig in the lapel of his coat. Crossing the fields in summer, he would gather a great bunch of dandelion blossoms, and red and while clover, to bring and scatter on the cots, as reminders of out-door air and sunshine.
When practicable, he came to the long and crowded wards of the maimed, the feeble, and the dying, only after preparations as for a festival—strengthened by a good meal, rest, the bath and fresh under-clothes. He entered with a huge haversack slung over his shoulder full of appropriate articles, with parcels under his arms, and protuberant [Footnote: Protuberant: bulging.] pockets. He would sometimes come in summer with a good-sized basket filled with oranges, and would go round for hours paring and dividing them among the feverish and thirsty.
Walt Whitman was of the people, the common people, and always gave out their quality and atmosphere. His commonness, his nearness, as of the things you have always known,—the day, the sky, the soil, your own parents,—were in no way veiled, or kept in abeyance, by his culture or poetic gifts. He was redolent of the human and the familiar. Though capable, on occasions, of great pride and hauteur, yet his habitual mood and presence was that of simple, average, healthful humanity,—the virtue and flavor of sailors, soldiers, laborers, travelers, or people who live with real things in the open air. His commonness rose into the uncommon, the extraordinary, but without any hint of the exclusive or specially favored. He was indeed "no sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them."
The spirit that animates every page of his book, and that it always effuses, [Footnote: Effuses: sheds, pours out.] is the spirit of common, universal humanity,—humanity apart from creed, schools, conventions, from all special privileges and refinements, as it is in and of itself in its relations to the whole system of things, in contradistinction to the literature of culture which effuses the spirit of the select and exclusive.
His life was the same. Walt Whitman never stood apart from or above any human being. The common people—workingmen, the poor, the illiterate, the outcast—saw themselves in him, and he saw himself in them: the attraction was mutual. He was always content with common, unadorned humanity.
—JOHN BURROUGHS (adapted).
[Footnote: What picture do you get of Whitman in this account? What qualities of Whitman's do you think most endeared him to the soldiers? Was Whitman's carefulness about his personal appearance an evidence of egotism or altruism? Compare this estimate of Whitman with the "Appreciation of Lincoln." Are there any points of likeness?]
HEROISM IN HOUSEKEEPING
So many talents are wasted, so many enthusiasms turned to smoke, so many lives spoiled for want of a little patience and endurance, for want of understanding and laying to heart the meaning of THE PRESENT—for want of recognizing that it is not the greatness or littleness of the duty nearest hand, but the spirit in which one does it, which makes one's doing noble or mean! I can't think how people who have any natural ambition, and any sense of power in them, escape going mad in a world like this, without the recognition of that. I know I was very near mad when I found it out for myself (as one has to find out for oneself everything that is to be of any real practical use to one).
Shall I tell you how it came into my head? Perhaps it may be of comfort to you in similar moments of fatigue and disgust. I had gone with my husband to live on a little estate of peat-bog, that had descended to me all the way down from John Welsh, the Covenanter, [Footnote: Covenanter: one who defends the "Solemn League and Covenant" made to preserve the reformed religion in Scotland.] who married a daughter of John Knox. [Footnote: John Knox: a celebrated Scottish reformer, statesman, and writer. Born 1505, died in 1572.] That didn't, I'm ashamed to say, make me feel Craigenputtock [Footnote: Craigenputtock: a town fifteen miles from Dumfries. Here much of Carlyle's best work was done.] a whit less of a peat-bog and a most dreary, untoward place to live at. In fact, it was sixteen miles distant on every side from all the conveniences of life, shops, and even post-office. Further, we were very poor, and further and worst, being an only child, and brought up to great prospects, I was sublimely ignorant of every branch of useful knowledge, though a capital Latin scholar and very fair mathematician.
It behooved me in these astonishing circumstances to learn to sew. Husbands, I was shocked to find, wore their stockings into holes, and were always losing buttons, and I was expected to "look to all that"; also it behooved me to learn to cook! no capable servant choosing to live at such an out-of-the-way place, and my husband having bad digestion, which complicated my difficulties dreadfully. The bread, above all, brought from Dumfries, [Footnote: Dumfries: a town in southern Scotland.] "soured on his stomach" and it was plainly my duty as a Christian wife to bake at home.
So I sent for Cobbett's "Cottage Economy," and fell to work at a loaf of bread. But, knowing nothing about the process of fermentation or the heat of ovens, it came to pass that my loaf got put into the oven at the time that myself ought to have been put into bed; and I remained the only person not asleep in a house in the middle of a desert.
One o'clock struck! and then two!! and then three!!! And still I was sitting there in the midst of an immense solitude, my whole body aching with weariness, my heart aching with a sense of forlornness and degradation. That I, who had been so petted at home, whose comfort had been studied by everybody in the house, who had never been required to do anything but cultivate my mind, should have to pass all those hours of the night in watching a loaf of bread—which mightn't turn out bread after all!
Such thoughts maddened me, till I laid down my head on the table and sobbed aloud. It was then that somehow the idea of Benvenuto Cellini [Footnote: Benvenuto Cellini: a famous Italian sculptor and worker in gold and silver. Born in 1500(?) died in 1571. His autobiography is one of the most famous of Italian classics. The Perseus of Cellini stands in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, and represents the helmeted hero holding up the severed head of Medusa.] sitting up all night watching his Perseus in the furnace came into my head, and suddenly I asked myself: "After all, in the sight of the upper Powers, what is the mighty difference between a statue of Perseus and a loaf of bread, so that each be the thing that one's hand has found to do? The man's determined will, his energy, his patience, his resource were the really admirable things of which his statue of Perseus was the mere chance expression. If he had been a woman, living at Craigenputtock with a dyspeptic husband, sixteen miles from a baker, and he a bad one, all these qualities would have come out more fitly in a good loaf of bread!"
I cannot express what consolation this germ of an idea spread over my uncongenial life during the years we lived at that savage place, where my two immediate predecessors had gone mad, and a third had taken to drink.
—JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
[Footnote: Does the opening paragraph give you any hint as to the source of this extract? What traits of character does the writer show? Can you show the evidence of Scotch Covenanter inheritance in the writer's philosophy? Do you imagine that the writer learned to make bread? Why? In what does the humor of the account lie?]
A YOUTHFUL ACTOR
My dramatic career was brought to a close by an unfortunate circumstance. We were playing the drama of "William Tell, the Hero of Switzerland." Of course I was William Tell, in spite of Fred Langdon, who wanted to act that character himself. I wouldn't let him, so he withdrew from the company, taking the only bow and arrow we had. I made a cross-bow out of a piece of whalebone, and did very well without him. We had reached that exciting scene where Gessler, the Austrian tyrant, commands Tell to shoot the apple from his son's head. Pepper Whitcomb, who played all the juvenile and women parts, was my son. To guard against mischance, a piece of pasteboard was fastened by a handkerchief over the upper portion of Whitcomb's face, while the arrow to be used was sewed up in a strip of flannel. I was a capital marksman, and the big apple, only two yards distant, turned its russet cheek fairly towards me.
I can see poor little Pepper now, as he stood without flinching, waiting for me to perform my great feat. I raised the cross-bow amid the breathless silence of the crowded audience,—consisting of seven boys and three girls, exclusive of Kitty Collins, who insisted on paying her way in with a clothes-pin. I raised the cross-bow, I repeat. Twang! went the whipcord; but, alas! instead of hitting the apple, the arrow flew right into Pepper Whitcomb's mouth, which happened to be open at the time, and destroyed my aim.
I shall never be able to banish that awful moment from my memory. Pepper's roar, expressive of astonishment, indignation, and pain, is still ringing in my ears. I looked upon him as a corpse, and, glancing not far into the dreary future, pictured myself led forth to execution in the presence of the very same spectators then assembled.
Luckily poor Pepper was not seriously hurt.
—T. B. ALDRICH.
[Footnote: Would you imagine, from this extract, that the book from which it was taken would be interesting? Why? Notice the easy conversational way of telling the incident. What is gained by this? Do you sympathize with Pepper or the author? Why?]
What, speaking in quite unofficial language, is the net purpose and upshot of war? To my own knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil in the British village of Dumdrudge [Footnote: Dumdrudge: a fictitious name.] usually some five hundred souls. From these there are successfully selected, during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men. Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them. She has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red; and shipped away at the public charges some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there until wanted. And now to that same spot in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending. At length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition; and thirty stands fronting thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word "Fire!" is given, and they blow the souls out of one another. And in place of sixty brisk useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury and anew shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the Devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart, were the entirest strangers, nay, in so wide a universe, there was even unconsciously, by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton' their Governors had fallen out, and instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.
[Footnote: Does Carlyle write from the usual military standpoint? Does war seem glorious or heroic from this point of view? Is ridicule an effective weapon against wrongs? Do you know of any abuses or wrongs that have been abolished by being shown up as ridiculous? Do you think it likely that the militaristic type of mind can have much sense of humor?]
'Coon-Hunting [Footnote: Coon: raccoon, an animal allied to the bears but much smaller. Its body is gray, varied with black and white, and it has a long full tail banded with black and gray.] is one of the truly American sports of the chase, though its devotees have found difficulty in persuading folks to take their sport seriously. It is, in truth, a comical aspect of hunting, and is scarcely less wanting in dignity than a 'possum [Footnote: Possum: opposum; this animal carries its young in a pouch, like the kangaroo.] chase, which confessedly has none at all. If 'coon-hunting be regarded, as a step higher than that, it loses the advantage at the end, for a fat 'possum is certainly better eating than a 'coon, however rotund. The chase, nevertheless, calls for endurance, since an old 'coon may run four or five miles after he has been started, zigzagging hither and yon, circling round and round trees, leaving a track calculated to make a dog dizzy, swimming streams, and running along the tops of logs and snake-fences, [Footnote: Snake-fence (same as a worm-fence): a zigzag fence of rails which cross at the ends.] hiding his trail with the craftiness of a fox.
The hunt is always organized late at night. Nobody ever heard of a real 'coon-hunt by daylight. The animals are moving about then, leaving trails that, starting at the edge of the woods, lead into the fastnesses where they take refuge. Such trails would grow "cold" before noonday.