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LIVES OF THE FUR FOLK

LIVES of the FUR FOLK

BY M.D. HAVILAND

illustrated by E. CALDWELL

LONGMANS, GREEN & COMPANY

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON NEW YORK, BOMBAY & CALCUTTA ·1910·

TO E. B. S.

PREFACE

The following, to a certain extent, are composite histories at present our knowledge of the life of the individual wild animal is too limited to admit of anything else; but the incidents related are all founded on fact, and Redpad, Grimalkin, and the rest actually lived, although here they are sometimes credited with adventures which in reality befell others of their race.

It may be thought that I have gone too far in endowing wild animals with the primitive elements of superstition, self sacrifice, &c.; but although the majority are certainly guided to a very great extent by pure instinct, here and there we find one whose actions cannot be altogether explained thus; and it must not be forgotten that it is from similar exceptions, who lived and died in long past ages, that our own powers of reason and reflection, our morality, sense of religion, our artists, heroes and saints have evolved.

For deciding some knotty points in the natural history of the badger, I am indebted to an excellent article on the animal by Mr. Douglas English. The rest of my information is entirely derived from personal observation, or from that of gamekeepers, 'earthstoppers,' huntsmen and others, whose calling has brought them into close contact with wild animals. To all these my thanks are due.

M. D. HAVILAND.

COURTOWN HARBOUR, CO. WEXFORD.

CONTENTS

THE STORY OF REDPAD THE FOX I. THE SPRING RAINS II. THE HUNTERS III. FIRST BLOOD IV. HOW THE DEBT WAS PAID V. THE SHEEP SLAYER VI. FROM KILMANAGH TO KNOCKDANE

THE STORY OF FLUFF BUTTON THE RABBIT I. HOW FLUFF BUTTON CRIED QUITS II. THE SPRING LONGING III. THE INVASION OF GARRY'S HILL IV. THE FEAR THAT WAS IN THE WAY V. UNDER THE MOON

STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF GRIMALKIN THE CAT I. THE FIRST HUNTING II. THE STEALTHY DEATH III. THE COLLARED BUCK IV. ZOE V. WHERE THE BATTLE IS TO THE STRONG

THE BIOGRAPHY OF STUBBS THE BADGER I. THE TWILIGHT HUNTERS II. BORRIGAN'S BAITING III. THE LARCH HILL 'EARTH'

LIST OF PLATES

LONELINESS AND LONGING FLUFF BUTTON WAS SEATED ON THE OTHER BANK TAKING A TONIC GRIMALKIN HOMEWARD BOUND

THE STORY OF REDPAD THE FOX

[Illustration: THE STORY OF REDPAD THE FOX]

CHAPTER I

THE SPRING RAINS

Vix found the old drain at the beginning of March. It was warm and roomy, and ran under the gate of the Plantation Field. Once upon a time, before the reservoir was built further up the hill, the stream which rose under St. Bridget's Tower had emptied itself through this drain into the bog; but that was many years ago, and now the moss and ferns grew thickly round the opening, and the grating at the further end was choked with rubbish. Nevertheless, because it was dry and lonely it suited Vix exactly, and the four cubs were born there towards the end of the month. They were blind, red, squealing creatures who groped and fought in the hot darkness to reach Vix and nuzzle at her side, and at first she spent most of the twenty four hours among them; but as they grew bigger and needed more food she was forced to spend much time on hunting excursions. Fortunately, however, as rabbits were to be had for the picking up in Knockdane Woods over the hill, and mice and rats were plentiful in the bog, the neighbouring poultry yards were not too severely taxed and Vix's nursery remained undiscovered.

April was ushered in by a cool dark evening after heavy rain. The sunset was pale and stormy, blotted out by ragged clouds, and as Vix trotted home she heard the 'rail' singing up the river. The 'rail' is the name which the Fur Folk have given to the sound which is heard at night before a storm, and it is one of the most mysterious noises of the whole countryside... Continue reading book >>




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