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hurry. But a moment more, and the mother-turkey would have shared the fate of the geese. There she lay at the end of the string, with extended wings, bitten and rumpled. The young roosted in a row on the fence near by, and had taken flight on the first alarm.
Turkeys, retaining many of their wild instincts, are less easily captured by the fox than any other of our domestic fowls. On the slightest show of danger they take to wing, and it is not unusual, in the locality of which I speak, to find them in the morning perched in the most unwonted places, as on the peak of the barn or hay-shed, or on the tops of the apple-trees, their tails spread and their manners showing much excitement. Perchance one turkey is minus her tail, the fox having succeeded in getting only a mouthful of quills.
As the brood grows and their wings develop, they wander far from the house in quest of grasshoppers. At such times they are all watchfulness and suspicion. Crossing the fields one day, attended by a dog that much resembled a fox, we came suddenly (or rather the dog did) upon a brood about one third grown, which were feeding in a pasture just beyond a wood. Instantly, and with the celerity of wild game, they launched into the air, and, while the old one perched upon a tree-top as if to keep an eye on the supposed enemy, the young went sailing over the trees toward home.
The two hounds above referred to, accompanied by a cur-dog, whose business it was to mind the farm, but who took as much delight in running away from prosy duty as if he had been a schoolboy, would frequently steal off and have a good hunt all by themselves, just for the fun of the thing, I suppose. I more than half suspect that it was as a kind of taunt or retaliation, that Reynard came and took the geese from under their very noses. One morning they went off and stayed till the afternoon of the next day; they ran the fox all day and all night, the hounds baying at every jump, the cur-dog silent and tenacious. When they returned
they came dragging themselves along, stiff, foot-sore, gaunt, and hungry. For a day or two afterward they lay about the kennels, seeming to dread nothing so much as the having to move. The stolen hunt was their "spree," their "bender," and of course they must take time to get over it.
Some old hunters think the fox enjoys the chase as much as the hounds, especially when the latter runs slow, as the best hounds do. The fox will wait for the hound, will sit down and listen, or play about, crossing and recrossing and doubling upon his track, as if enjoying a mischievous consciousness of the perplexity he would presently cause his pursuer. It is evident, however, that the fox does not always have his share of the fun: before a swift dog, or in a deep snow, or on a wet day when his tail gets bedraggled, he must put his best foot forward. As a last resort he "holes up." Sometimes he resorts to numerous devices to mislead and escape the dog altogether. He will walk in the bed of a small creek, or on a rail. fence. I heard of an instance of a fox, hard and long pressed, that took to a rail-fence, and after walking some distance, made a leap to one side to a hollow stump, in the cavity of which he snugly stowed himself. The ruse succeeded, and the dogs lost the trail; but the hunter coming up, passed by chance near the stump, when out bounded the fox, his cunning availing him less than he deserved. On another occasion the fox took to the public road, and stepped with great care and precision into a sleigh-track. The hard, polished snow took no imprint of the light foot, and the scent was no doubt less than it would have been on a rougher surface. May-be, also, the rogue had considered the chances of another sleigh coming along, before the hound, and obliterating the trail entirely.
Audubon relates of a certain fox, which when started by the hounds always managed to elude them at a certain point. Finally the hunter concealed himself in the locality, to discover, if possible, the trick. Presently along
came the fox, and making a leap to one side, ran up the trunk of a fallen tree which had lodged some feet from the ground,. and concealed himself in the top. In a few minutes the hounds came up, and in their eagerness passed some distance beyond the point, and then went still farther, looking for the lost trail. Then the fox hastened down, and, taking his back-track, fooled the dogs completely.
I was told of a Silver-gray fox in northern New York, which, when pursued by the hounds, would run till it had hunted up another fox, or the fresh trail of one, when it would so manœuvre that the hound would invariably be switched off on the second track.
In cold, dry weather the fox will sometimes elude the hound, at least delay him much, by taking to a bare, plowed field. The hard, dry earth seems not to retain a particle of the scent, and the hound gives a loud, long, peculiar bark, to signify he has trouble. It is now his turn to show his wit, which he often does by passing completely around the field, and resuming the trail again where it crosses the fence or a strip of snow.
The fact that any dry, hard surface is unfavorable to the hound, suggests, in a measure, the explanation of the wonderful faculty that all dogs in a degree possess to track an animal by the scent of the foot alone. Did you ever think why a dog's nose is always wet? Examine the nose of a fox-hound, for instance; how very moist and sensitive! Cause this moisture to dry up, and the dog would be as powerless to track an animal as you are! The nose of the cat, you may observe, is but a little moist, and, as you know, her sense of smell is far inferior to that of the dog. Moisten your own nostrils and lips, and this sense is plainly sharpened. The sweat of a dog's nose, therefore, is no doubt a vital element in its power, and, without taking a very long logical stride, we may infer how a damp, rough surface aids him in tracking game.
A fox-hunt in this country is, of course, quite a different thing from what it is in England, where all the squires
and noblemen of a borough, superbly mounted, go riding over the country, guided by the yelling hounds, till the fox is literally run down and murdered. Here the hunter prefers a rough, mountainous country, and, as probably most persons know, takes advantage of the disposition of the fox, when pursued by the hound, to play or circle around a ridge or bold point, and, taking his stand near the run-way, shoots him down.
A still-hunt rarely brings you in sight of a fox, as his ears are much sharper than yours, and his tread much lighter. But if one is mousing in the fields, and you discover him before he does you, you may, the wind favoring, call him within a few paces of you. Secrete yourself behind the fence, or some other object, and squeak as nearly like a mouse as possible. Reynard will hear the sound at an incredible distance. He pricks up his ears, gets the direction, and comes trotting along as unsuspiciously as can be. I have never had an opportunity to try the experiment, but I know perfectly reliable persons who have done it. One man, in the pasture getting his cows, called a fox which was too busy mousing to get the first sight, till it jumped upon the wall just over where he sat secreted. Giving a loud whoop and jumping up at the same time, the fox came as near being frightened out of his skin as I suspect a fox
In trapping for the fox, you get perhaps about as much "fun" and as little fur, as in any trapping amusement you can engage in. The one feeling that ever seems present to the mind of Reynard, is suspicion. He does not need experience to teach him, but seems to know from the jump that there is such a thing as a trap, and that a trap has a way of grasping a fox's paw that is more frank than friendly. Cornered in a hole or den, a trap can be set so that the poor creature has the desperate alternative of being caught or starve. He is generally caught, though not till he has braved hunger for a good many days.
But to know all his cunning and shrewdness, bait him in the field, or set
your trap by some carcass where he is wont to come. In some cases he will examine the trap, and leave the marks of his contempt for it in a way you cannot mistake, or else he will not approach within a rod of it. Sometimes, however, he finds in a trapper more than his match, and is fairly caught. In such cases the trap, which must be of the finest make, is never touched with the bare hand, but, after being thoroughly smoked and greased, is set in a bed of dry ashes, or chaff, in a remote field where the fox has been emboldened to dig for several successive nights for morsels of toasted cheese.
A light fall of snow aids the trapper's art and conspires to Reynard's ruin. But how lightly he is caught, when caught at all! barely the end of his toes, or at most a spike through the middle of his foot. I once saw a large painting of a fox struggling with a trap which held him by the hind leg, above the gambrel-joint! A painting alongside of it represented a peasant driving an ox-team from the off-side! A fox would be as likely to be caught above the gambrel-joint as a farmer would to drive his team from the off-side. I knew one that was caught by the tip of the lower jaw. He came nightly, and, took the morsel of cheese from the pan of the trap without springing it. A piece was then secured to the pan by a thread, with the result as above stated.
I have never been able to see clearly why the mother-fox generally selects a burrow or hole in the open field in which to have her young, except it be, as some hunters maintain, for better security. The young foxes are wont to come out on a warm day, and play like puppies in front of the den. By having the view unobstructed on all sides by trees or bushes, in the cover of which danger might approach, they are less liable to surprise and capture. On the slightest sound they disappear in the hole in the twinkling of an eye. Those who have watched the gambols of the young foxes, speak of them as very amusing, even more arch and playful than those of kittens, while a spirit profoundly wise and
cunning seems to look out of their young eyes. The parent-fox can never be caught in the den with them, but is hovering near in the woods, which are always at hand, and by her warning cry or bark telling them when to be on their guard. She usually has at least three dens, at no great distance apart, and moves stealthily in the night with her charge from one to the other, so as to mislead her enemies. Many a party of boys, and of men, too, discovering the whereabouts of a litter, have gone with shovels and picks, and, after digging away vigorously for several hours, have found only an empty hole for their pains. The old fox, finding her secret had been found out, had waited for darkness in the cover of which to transfer her household to new quarters, or else some old fox-hunter, jealous of the preservation of his game, and getting word of the intended destruction of the litter, had gone at dusk the night before, and made some disturbance about the den, perhaps flashed . some powder in its mouth-a hint which the shrewd animal interpreted rightly.
The more scientific aspects of the question may not be without interest to some of my readers. The fox belongs to the great order of flesh-eating animals called Carnivora, and to the family called Canida, or dogs. The wolf is a kind of wild dog, and the fox is a kind of wolf. Foxes, unlike wolves, however, never go in packs or companies, but hunt singly. The fox has a kind of bark, which suggests the dog, as have all the members of this family. The kinship is further shown by the fact that during certain periods, for the most part in the summer, the dog cannot be made to attack or even pursue the female fox, but will run from her in the most shamefaced manner, which he will not do in the case of any other animal except a wolf. Many of the ways and manners of the fox, when tamed, are also like the dog's. I once saw a young Red fox exposed for sale in the market in Washington. A colored man had him, and said he had caught him out in Virginia. He led him by a small chain, as he would a puppy, and the innocent young rascal would lay
on his side and bask and sleep in the sunshine, amid all the noise and chaffering around him, precisely like a dog. He was about the size of a full-grown cat, and there was a bewitching beauty about him that I could hardly resist. On another occasion I saw a Gray fox about two thirds grown, playing with a dog, about the same size, and by nothing in the manners of either could you tell which was the dog and which was the fox.
Some naturalists think there are but two permanent species of the fox in the United States, viz., the Gray fox and the Red fox, though there are five or six varieties. The Gray fox, which is much smaller and less valuable than the Red, is the southern species, and is said to be rarely found north of Maryland, though in certain rocky localities along the Hudson they are common.
In the southern States this fox is often hunted in the English fashion, namely, on horseback, the riders tearing through the country in pursuit till the animal is run down and caught. This is the only fox that will tree. When too closely pressed, instead of taking to a den or hole, it climbs beyond the reach of the dogs in some small tree.
The Red fox is the northern species, and is rarely found further south than the mountainous districts of Virginia. In the Arctic regions he gives place to the Arctic fox, which most of the season is white.
The Prairie fox, the Cross fox, and the Black or Silver-gray fox, seem only varieties of the Red fox, as the black squirrel breeds with the gray, and the black woodchuck is found with the brown. There is little to distinguish them from the Red, except the color, though the Prairie fox is said to be the larger of the two.
The Cross fox is dark brown on its muzzle and extremities, with a cross of red and black on its shoulders and breast, which peculiarity of coloring, and not any trait in its character, gives it its name. They are very rare, and
few hunters have ever seen one. The American Fur Company used to obtain annually from fifty to one hundred skins. The skins formerly sold for twenty-five dollars, though I believe they now bring only about five dollars.
The Black or Silver-gray fox is the rarest of all, and its skin the most valuable. The Indians used to estimate it equal to forty beaver-skins. The great Fur Companies seldom collect in a single season more than four or five skins at any one post. Most of those of the American Fur Company come from the head-waters of the Mississippi. One of the younger Audubons shot one in northern New York. The fox had been seen and fired at many times by the hunters of the neighborhood, and had come to have the reputation of leading a charmed life, and of being invulnerable to any thing but a silver bullet. But Audubon brought her down (for it was a female) on the second trial. She had a litter of young in the vicinity, which he also dug out, and found the nest to hold three black and four red ones, which fact settled the question with him that black and red often have the same parentage, and are, in truth, the same species.
The color of this fox, in a point-blank view, is black, but viewed at an angle it is a dark silver-gray, whence has arisen the notion that the black and the silvergray are distinct varieties. The tip of the tail is always white.
In almost every neighborhood there are traditions of this fox, and it is the dream of young sportsmen; but I have yet to meet the person who has seen one. I should go well to the north, into the British Possessions, if I was bent on obtaining a specimen.
One more item from the books. From the fact that in the bone-caves in this country skulls of the Gray fox are found, but none of the Red, it is inferred by some naturalists that the Red fox is a descendant from the European species, which it resembles in form but surpasses in beauty, and its appearance on this continent comparatively of recent date.
PICTURES IN THE PRIVATE GALLERIES OF NEW YORK.
GALLERY OF MARSHALL O. ROBERTS.
if it were possible to revive his pleasing presence he should be here; and if, by chance, we could discover his local habitation, we would solicit the pleasure of his company in the private gallery of Mr. Marshall O. Roberts. We would not shock him with strange and late developments, but we would place him among some of the familiar pictures of his palmiest days; we would place him before Huntington of twenty years ago; and, instead of speaking, we should wish to listen to him. But the gentle reader, shade that he is, is likewise voiceless. However sure of his tenderness towards the famous pictures that were novelties in the art of his time, we should get no verbal sign from him. But we will even suppose him to be present; for no spirit less gentle than his should preside over us in a gallery crowded with pictures that were famous ten years ago, but which must suffer from the present fashion of understanding art. Our genial companion, whose face is peaceful and gladdening, and without a suggestion of the influence of railroads and newspapers, is suffused with pleasure before Huntington's picture of "Mercy's Dream." The pure intention of the artist and the sacredness of the familiar story, are united in a form of art conse
crated by the reverence of ages—and it is enough for the gentle reader. This is a picture which is almost as popular, while it appeals to much the same feelings, as illustrations of the lives of Catholic Saints for devout Roman Catholics. is a myth of the Puritan mind which in beauty and vividness does not decline before the historic splendor of the more prolific plastic imagination of the Catholic of the south of Europe. An ideal of Protestantism is here realized. How much the Evangelical public has been gratified by this picture! We will not breathe a word of criticism before this figure consecrated by the affection and veneration of a thousand homes. Away, profane and skeptical critic, nourished on modern novels, modern science, modern French art, and American journalism! You are before an ideal of a religious mind, albeit the ideal is in a conventional form. Mr. Huntington's art can be brought in question elsewhere, and when criticism is less likely to wound pious prejudices. And, after all, rob the angel in his picture of lustre, and " "Mercy " of grace, lower the art of the painter, dispute his understanding of form, obey the instincts of a detractor, and be insensible to the unction of Mr. Huntington's picture, and your task would not be productive of good to any one. You might whisper that it is most appropriate to a Sundayschool banner, but your very suggestion would be a vindication of the popular significance and spotless purpose of the painter's work.
Opposite to Huntington's picture of "Mercy's Dream" is a large picture representing the "Good Samaritan." By its size and subject it belongs to great art as understood in academies of