Stories of Animal Sagacity

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

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Title: Stories of Animal Sagacity
Author: W.H.G. Kingston
Illustrator: Harrison Weir
Release Date: October 17, 2007 [EBook #23067]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Stories of Animal Sagacity, by W.H.G. Kingston.
I have undertaken, my young friends, to give you a number of anecdotes, which will, I think, prove that animals possess not only instinct, which guides them in obtaining food, and enables them to enjoy their existence according to their several natures, but also that many of them are capable of exercising a kind of reason, which comes into play under circumstances to which they are not naturally exposed.
Those animals more peculiarly fitted to be the companions of man, and to assist him in his occupations, appear to possess generally a larger amount of this power; at all events, we have better opportunities of noticing it, although, probably, it exists also in a certain degree among wild animals.
I will commence with some anecdotes of the sagacity shown by animals with which you are all well acquainted--Cats and Dogs; and if you have been accustomed to watch the proceedings of your dumb companions you will be able to say, "Why, that is just like what Tabby once did;" or, "Our Ponto acted nearly as cleverly as that the other day."
When you see Pussy seated by the fireside, blinking her eyes, and looking very wise, you may often ask, "I wonder what she can be thinking about." Just then, probably, she is thinking about nothing at all; but if you were to turn her out of doors into the cold, and shut the door in her face, she would instantly begin to think, "How can I best get in again?" And she would run round and round the house, trying to find a door or window open by which she might re-enter it.
I once heard of a cat which exerted a considerable amount of reason under these very circumstances. I am not quite certain of this Pussy's name, but it may possibly have been Deborah. The house where Deborah was born and bred is situated in the country, and there is a door with a small porch opening on a flower-garden. Very often when this door was shut, Deborah, or little Deb, as she may have been called, was left outside; and on such occasions she used to mew as loudly as she could to beg for admittance. Occasionally she was not heard; but instead of running away, and trying to find some other home, she used--wise little creature that she was!--patiently to ensconce herself in a corner of the window-sill, and wait till some person came to the house, who, on knocking at the door, found immediate attention. Many a day, no doubt, little Deb sat there on the window-sill and watched this proceeding, gazing at the knocker, and wondering what it had to do with getting the door open.
A month passed away, and little Deb grew from a kitten into a full-sized cat. Many a weary hour was passed in her corner. At length Deb arrived at the conclusion that if she could manage to make the knocker sound a rap-a-tap-tap on the door, the noise would summon the servant, and she would gain admittance as well as the guests who came to the house.
One day Deb had been shut out, when Mary, the maidservant, who was sitting industriously stitching away, heard a rap-a-tap at the front door, announcing the arrival, as she supposed, of a visitor. Putting down her work, she hurried to the door and lifted the latch; but no one was there except Deb, who at that moment leaped off the window-sill and entered the house. Mary looked along the road, up and down on either side, thinking that some person must have knocked and gone away; but no one was in sight.
The following day the same thing happened, but it occurred several times before any one suspected that Deb could possibly have lifted the knocker. At length Mary told her mistress what she suspected, and one of the family hid in the shrubbery to watch Deb's proceedings. Deb was allowed to ran out in the garden, and the door was closed. After a time the little creature was seen to climb up on the window-sill, and then to rear herself on her hind-feet, in an oblique position at the
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