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thank my old schoolmaster for giving me a good rudimentary education. Latin is awfully dry, and so is Algebra. I don't know which is hardest. Two or three of the best scholars do lessons for those who like to pay for them, but I promised father I would never take up a lesson I had not done myself. So I am pegging away at mine sometimes for half an hour after the others have done, and there they are shouting and laughing and gaming round me till I feel I could hardly say my alphabet, let alone my Algebra.
I am getting on better in the playground, and shall soon be jolly with my schoolfellows. I ran so well with the “ hounds on Shrove Tuesday, that Belton, the captain of the first cricketing eleven, has promised to let me play when the season begins.
But I must tell you of the fun we had on Shrove Tuesday. Of course it was a half-holiday, and as it was a fine day it was decided to have the “hounds” out. They don't play “hare and hounds" here like we do at Woodbourne, but more like a real hunt. I advise you to try it some Saturday. This is the way we did it.
Everybody put on their strongest boots and the worst clothes they had. Two of the best runners-Sam Belton and Jim Wheale-were chosen for hares ; and they each carried a bag of scent, consisting of bits of paper-copy-books cut up. They started off together, and, as they went, they dropped here and there a bit of the paper "scent, to enable us to track them. The rule was that they should never go more than twenty yards without dropping “scent.”
After they had been gone fifteen minutes, all the rest of ushounds of course-burst out in pursuit. It was easy running till we got to the bottom of the lane, for the "scent" was plentifully scattered, but after that it got scarcer and farther apart. First it led us right down to the river’s bank, then back over a ploughed field into the lane again, and then straight to one of the ferries. Two of the hounds went across on the boat to see if there were any scent · on the opposite bank, for the ferrymen would not tell us. At last they found it, and then we all got on the ferry and crowded so that the man could hardly work us across.
Then away we went through the hedges, over ditches, across a meadow, and over a sand-hill. Here a few of the younger boys turned back, but I kept on with the front pair of hounds. Once we lost the scent in a plantation, but we scattered ourselves about and hunted, till at last we found it in the trunk of an old tree where it must have been carried by the wind. Off we went again, across flooded pasture land, over ploughed fields where the damp soil clogged our feet, and then across the river again by a ferry lower down. Many a time did the “scent” cause us to double on the track we had taken. At last it led us along a turnpike road into a village called Powick.
I must tell you that the Worcester Lunatic Asylum is at Powick, and, of course, there were all sorts of jokes at Belton and Whale having gone there. One of the fellows suggested that possibly they
had been taken for lunatics and locked up accordingly. Another said, considering the month, it was nothing remarkable if they had, for “ mad as a March hare" had run into a proverb. After a long search, a piece of “scent" was found, and then another and another until at last we got to the asylum gate, and there sure enough lay another “scent” about half-a-dozen yards up the asylum drive, A surly-looking official was loitering about, and we asked him if he had seen two lads with bags on their backs. He would not answer us civilly, so we all began laughing at him. This made him angry, and he walked off, muttering something about “there be many people outside of the 'sylum with less sense than lots as be in." We found the scent again presently, and led off across country
There were only five of us now-all the rest having decided to walk home by the turnpike road. I was determined to be plucky, though my legs ached badly and my feet were sore, so I struck off into the fields with the other four 5 hounds." Across the river we went again, then down country lanes, over the same meadows as before, again across the ferry, round the racecourse, and straight up to the playground and into the school. There the first to receive the five dirty, sweaty "hounds,” with our clothes torn and spattered from head to foot with mud and clay, were the hares, Belton and Wheale, looking as fresh, cool, clean, and neat as a thorough wash and a complete change of clothes could make them.
But I must pull up. I had no idea I had written so much. Ted Instone, who sits opposite me, has just looked up from reading “Frank Fairleigh” to ask me which of the county newspapers I am special correspondent for.
I thought of telling you all about a fight I had with one of the boys, but I have not time now. With kind regards to your father and mother, I remain, yours very truly,
FOOTPRINTS OF GOD IN NATURE.
By GEORGE PACKER,
that some call instinct and others term 'inderstanding
there is none nobler than the elephant. It is the largest of all land animals, growing sometiraes to the height of twelve feet, and weighing as much as five tons. It sometimes lives to the extraordinary age of two hundred years, so that in duration as well as in stature man is but a pigmy beside it. Elephants are only now to be found
in Africa and India, though in remote ages they were common in. many parts of Europe. Their food is supplied by the grass and nuts and young trees of the vast forests that in many parts of Africa and India abound. While it is the strongest and the largest of all quadrupeds, the elephant is yet mild, gentle, and peaceful. It has a giant's strength, but seldom uses it like a giant. It is only when provoked that it becomes fierce and terrible. When well treated it is a social and friendly creature, and never abuses its enormous strength.
It is one of the best servants man has, being of far more use in the East than the noble horse even with ourselves. From time immemorial it has been used in war and forevery variety of heavy labour. It is always employed in processions and similar state occasions ; and a long line of elephants covered with handsome trappings, and bearing howdahs filled with gaily-dressed men, forms a picturesque sight. It may be a mark of the facility with which an elephant can adopt the improvements of civilisation, or it may be a proof that under civilisation the noble beast speedily loses his simple and natural tastes, but it is a fact that elephants take as much pride in the gorgeousness of their trappings as a modern young lady does in a new silk dress or a stylish bonnet.
In its wild state the elephant is generally found in herds; and as a herd of elephants moves forward, it seems almost as if the forest were being carried way. A small army would be required to stop
When attacked by men they scarcely ever attempt flight, but go straight forward, no matter what kind of weapon is used against them. Before the invention of gunpowder they were impervious to the post powerful assaults of men. The native with his darts was no greater terror to them than an old lady with a handful of darning needles would be to a herd of cows,
The head of the elephant is large, and the neck short and thick, but the long flexible trunk compensates for the short and almost immovable neck. By means of its trunk the animal can pick up objects from the ground, or reach those above it to the height of several feet. Its sense of smelling is very acute, and it is delighted with the same odours that please us. It will gather flowers with the ardour of a school-girl, and seems almost as much pleased with their beauty and perfume. Its hearing is very keen, and it is delighted at the sounds of music, beating time with its trunk or feet to its strains. Its ears are very large and hang down, though it has the power of raising them at its pleasure. Livingstone mentions measuring the ear-flaps of elephants that were four feet across, and four feet five inches in length; and tells us that on a sudden rain-storm he has not unfrequently
seen a native find snug and complete shelter under one of his elephant's ears.
In the exquisite sensitiveness of its feeling the elephant excels all others in the brute creation, and probably surpasses man himself. The organ of feeling is constituted by the trunk, which has all the use of a hand. The trank of a full-sized elephant is about three feet long, tapering from the head to the point. It ends in two nostrils and is hollow all along. It is capable of being moved in any direction, and of being lengthened and shortened at will. It is so pliant and delicate that it can be wound around a slender branch of a tree, or it can pick up a pin from the ground, and yet it is so strong that nothing can be torn from its grasp. To render its grasp effective there are little protuberances on the under side, which contribute both to the sensibility of the touch and the firmness of the hold. The trunk serves as knife and fork and spoon, for it is by it that all its food is gathered and conveyed to its mouth, the drink as well as the more solid food being sucked up by it before it is discharged into its mouth. Nature has placed valves at the upper end of the trunk to prevent the water being driven too far. The stomach is so capacious as to hold ten gallons of water, and what is most remarkable is, that the water can be readily withdrawn from it, and frequently is so withdrawn and squirted over the back by means of the trunk for the purpose of a cooling shower-bath, or to drive away the troublesome flies. At the point of the trunk there is an extension of the skin that answers all the purposes of a finger and thumb. A trained elephant can perform the most surprising tricks by means of it. It can take up a brush and sweep a room, it can untie knots in a rope, it can ring a bell, unlock a door, and even write with a pencil. The
eyes of the elephant are small, but large enough to exhibit great variety of expression, as it is pleased or angry. Its legs are very thick and stiff to support the immense weight of its head and body. When it lies down it does not, like other animals, bring its hind legs under it, but extends them backwards like a man when he kneels down. This peculiar movement makes it more valuable to
One or two elephants have been born in the London Zoological Gardens ; but elephants rarely breed when tamed and domesticated. Hence they have to be caught in a state of nature, and all kinds of art are used to capture them. Sometimes they are decoyed by other elephants trained for the purpose. Sometimes hunters go into the forests two only together, and waiting their opportunity of getting near to an elephant that is by itself, they then throw around it a strong hide rope, and, wrapping it round and round its limbs and body in all directions, fasten it securely to the strongest trees near enough for the purpose. They then spend weeks in taming it; and, giving it more liberty as its wildness and fury leave it, they lead it home in two or three months in triumph. Sometimes elephants are captured by being driven into a trap called a corrul, being an enclosure strongly fenced and open on one side only, which is immediately secured by prepared fences when they are safely inside.
Formerly they were taken by being lured or driven where deep pits had been dug, and then concealed by being strewed over with branches of trees. But this is not now practised, as the fall often injured them. Not a few instances have been known of elephants
coming to each other's help and, by means of their powerful trunks, pulling their unfortunate companion out of the trap—a lesson this to ourselves, to teach us Low to behave to others in distress. The same kindliness of nature is also seen in the fact that when one of them has found a good piece of pasture, he will immediately invite others to join him.
Elephants in England fetch large prices, and they are expensive pets to board and lodge, as they require a deal of“ elbow room” and have a most voracious appetite. The celebrated peripatetic show of Wombwell's, that used to make its appearance at the chief fairs and "wakes" all over the country, cost weekly for the maintenance of its animals, before the collection was broken up into smaller ones, the enormous sum of £200. The larger elephant at Belle Vue, Manchester, cost the proprietor a few years ago £750. Frank Buckland tells us that a large elephant with good tusks would have fifty bidders at a thousand pounds any day. A most valuable elephant worth more than that sum was shot, some years ago, by the military who were called in for the purpose, because it was supposed to be gone mad. It was afterwards proved that nothing more serious was the matter with it than the toothache, and all that was needed was that the tooth should have been extracted by some skilful elephant dentist. The soldiers were engaged firing rifles at it as fast as their pieces could be loaded, and the excited monster was breaking out of his cage to get at his tormenters, before their shots took effect.
The facility with which, under kind treatment, the elephant learns to perform the most difficult feats, offers a surprising contrast to the unwieldiness and bulk of his body. Elephants have been taught to dance on the ground, to dance on tubs inverted and arranged at certain distances, to walk on the tight rope,
throw stones at a mark and hit it, and to throw stones in the air and catch them again.
There are so many well-authenticated stories of the sagacity of this noble animal, that it is a matter of difficulty to make a selection. Two brief ones may serve as samples of all the rest. An elephant belonging to one of the officials of the Bengal Civil Service used to pass every day over small bridge leading from his master's house to the town of Gyat. One day, on coming to the bridge as usual, he refused point-blank to cross it. The driver resorted to the utmost cruelty to compel him, and at last he reluctantly moved carefully forward. As soon, however, as he had got on the bridge it gave way and precipitated both elephant and driver into the river, the latter being killed, and the former with difficulty swimming out. Elephants have the habit of trying with their trunks and fore-feet suspicious places before venturing on them with their full weight, and there is no doubt that this elephant had a clear idea of the catastrophe that was about to occur. In the city of Delhi an elephant was generally fed hy a number of tailors who sat working by the side of the road along which he passed every morning. One day a tailor,