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A FANCIFUL STORY OF FEAR.
nothing: so he said. long suspected Jan's cowardice began to think
But in real truth Jan that after all they might be wrong. At any rate was a little coward. If a his words were greeted with approval, and it was cow only dared to look at with a very self-satisfied heart that Jan reached him, Jan would run as if home. Was it surprising that Jan's thoughts took his life depended upon his shape in rhyme, and that he heard ringing in his speed; if a dog barked in his presence, Jan's knees would
“Jan, Jan, knock together under him;
When you're a man,
You'll be the bravest in the fight! if he were left in the dark
Where'er you go by himself, Jan fancied all sorts of terrible things,
You'll fear no foe, although he ought to have known that he was as
And men will tremble at your might!" safe by night as by day. Jan was a coward, there was no doubt about it, although he always tried After dinner, Jan thought it was a very clever to make his schoolfellows believe he was as brave thing to take his sister's knitting, and endeavour as a lion.
to spoil what she had done. I wonder whether One day all the boys at Jan's school had a holi- this was his idea of bravery and heroism ! day, and the master took them to a picture- Sitting on a stool unravelling the wool, he gallery, where they saw a number of paintings began to think of the various pictures he had illustrating heroic deeds. Jan seized the occasion seen that morning, until suddenly a strange sound to boast before all his fellows of what he would fell upon his ear-the sound as of a regiment of do if he or any of his friends were in danger, and soldiers marching. Tramp! tramp! he could
Teeth chit-a-chattering, Won't he be in a terrible fright !"
Then Jan was blindfolded and led away by two of the men, who held him tightly by the collar. After going some distance, as it seemed, Jan heard a great noise, that sounded like a mixture of groans, and shrieks, and yells, and then he felt that the men who held him were trembling violently. “Here we are in Trembledom at last," said one of them, and he began to sing in a frightened tone
hear them coming, and soon he could distinguish the clank of their armour, and the ring of their pikes. Who could they be, and how did they get into the house ? and what did they want ? Jan was not long left in doubt, for some time before he saw them he could hear them chanting a kind of song, and surely his own name was mentioned in it. It sounded like
" Jan, Jan,
The valiant man,
We're here to-day
To take you away, To see if you'll do the things that you say !" Jan was terribly frightened, and still more so when the soldiers appeared, with an officer at their head, holding a drawn sword in his hand. But if he could only have heard the next verse of their song, which by-the-bye they muttered under their breath, he might perhaps have been bolder
“We're afraid, we're afraid !
We're sadly dismayed !
If he dare show his face
Sad will be our disgrace : We shall race to our kingdom of Fear !" But Jan did not hear this, and, scarcely knowing how he did it, he rushed wildly out of the house, and down the street, with the soldiers after him. The race was soon over, however : Jan was caught, and this was his sentence
“Shivery-shaky, quivery-quaky! Sad is his fate for a day and a night!
Then the soldiers released Jan, and by the time he had torn the bandage off his eyes they had disappeared.
When Jan opened his eyes it was night, and he could not see a yard before him. Feeling the ground cautiously with his hand, he came to the conclusion that he was on a grassy plain ; moving a foot or two farther on, however, he plunged his hand into a deep hole, and in doing so, knocked one or two stones off the edge. He heard them go bump, bump, against the sides, but they never seemed to reach the bottom. As Jan thought of the narrow escape he had had he trembled so that he almost fell into the hole. He daren't stay so close to it, that was certain ; so he groped along
“ITS TWO LONG ARMS WERE STRETCHED OUT” (p. 238).
on his hands and knees, and moved some yards in the other direction. But suddenly, before he knew it, he fell into a black muddy bog, and every minute he seemed to sink deeper and deeper until only his head was above the ground. Then just as he thought he must disappear from sight, and had uttered a despairing cry for help, a hand clutched him by the hair, and he was on dry ground once more. And as he stood shivering, he heard a squeaky voice in the air, saying-
What is the matter?
How your teeth chatter ! Surely you've nothing to fear." Jan was in a sad plight indeed, as covered with black mud, he rested against a tree. Just then the moon rose up above a bank of cloud, and Jan saw, to his horror, that the tree was a kind of giant, and that its two long arms were stretched out to grasp him. This was where the voice came from then. He didn't wait to think, but started off, with his hair on end, and ran madly over the plain, while the mocking voice followed him
“Oh, what fun
To see him run,
He ! he! he!
I'm only a tree, And yet he's as frightened as frightened can be !" And then, without any further adventure, he ran into daylight, strange to say, and the first things he
saw were a boy and a girl, most oddly dressed, and with spiral wires in place of legs. They were both crying bitterly, but Jan was unfeeling, as all cowards are, and he only laughed. More than that, he was bigger, so he determined to bully them.
He noticed that at the feet of each was a large slice of cake, but as the spiral wires acted as springs the children could not bend to reach the tempting pieces. (The children were gluttons, and this was their punishment, but the story of their troubles and how they got out of them is too long to tell here.) Jan, seeing the state of affairs, put himself in an imposing attitude, and ordered them to pick up their cake. Of course they couldn't do it. Then Jan put his hands on their heads and bobbed them up and down.
Very clever, wasn't it, Master Jan, but it was your turn next. Without knowing it, Jan's legs had already become springs; and suddenly a very heavy hand was put on his head, and up and down he went, as it seemed for hours. Oh, how dizzy he was, and how frightened! And all this time the two little children jeered at him, singing
Where are your legs?
And hung them on pegs ?
To see you go!
To be treated so?"
hair had come away from the top of it- just where And now, for the first time Jan began to see the pressure of the man's hand had been. “Ha! how cowardly, and how cruel he was. He a hero? ha ! ha!” laughed the children
Not a bit of it. He was a boaster, and nothing else. " Ha! ha! ha! he has lost his hair !
And no sooner had he thought all this out than He has been in such fright
he began to speak his thoughts aloud, and, lo! he For a day and a night
heard the tramp, tramp, of the soldiers once more, That his hair is gone and his head is bare !"
but this time their song was in a different keyJan made a rush at the children, but they sud.
“ Bravo, Jan, denly disappeared, and the scene changed in a won
The valiant man, derful way. On looking round him, Jan found he
Come forth at once from all this strife! was on the sea-shore, and seeing a small boy in
You're brave to-day, nautical attire in front of him he called to him.
Since you can say,
"I've been a coward all my life.'" "Hi! hi!” said he, “can you tell me the way to Hembledom ?” Hembledom was where Jan And with a start, Jan jumped up and found himself lived. Without deigning to turn round, the boy in his own home. answered in a quaint tone“ 'Twixt Trembledom and Hembledom
“I'm a coward,” said he to his sister that evenLie miles and miles of sea !
" I've spoilt your knitting, merely because I Pray take a trip in this 'ere ship,
knew I was stronger than you. But I am very And sail along o'me.'
sorry now, and I'll give you my bright shilling, if Jan saw nothing for it but to do so. So he you'll only forgive me.” followed his companion to the water's edge, when a " I'm a coward after all,” said Jan to his schoolboat from the ship took them on board.
fellows next morning. “I know now that if the Soon after they had sailed another vessel came chance offered I should never act like a hero." up, and then commenced one of those naval But although Jan didn't know it, when he made combats of which Jan had read in history, and those two speeches he had commenced to be a paintings of which he had seen in the picture- | hero, and he had done braver things than ever gallery. Cannon-balls seemed to cleave the air in besore in his life. every direction; the sails and the rigging were cut And Jan's sister and companions lived to see to pieces; but Jan was safe, at any rate for the Jan a real hero, and I am sure that that dream after present. For at the first sign of the impending the visit to the picture-gallery had no small share in fight he had hidden himself in a dark corner. making him so.
" HE CALLED TO HIM."
ABOUT THE “AMERICAN LEOPARD."
or read of a single sent him sprawling to the ground. He speedily
amiable or pleasant discovered that he had been the object of a jaguar's feature in the character attentions, which, in its over-anxiety to secure an of the jaguar ? One has easily-won meal, miscalculated its leap, and instead occasionally known of a of alighting upon its would-be victim, jumped too “good point” in most of low, striking him with its head. The engineer was the ferocious animals; but not sorry when daylight appeared. nobody has ever dared to This animal has a tolerably wide range, being raise a voice on behalf found from the south-western boundary of the
of the crafty and treacher. United States, throughout Central America, and as ous “Leopard of America.” It might indeed far south as Paraguay. Humboldt, the great be proper to praise his beauty, his lovely coat naturalist, accounts for its scarcity in certain of soft fur of a deep golden colour, spotted with regions as compared with others by the following black rings arranged in regular order, and his easy interesting fact. carriage, so characteristic of all the cat tribe ; but In the republics of South America, where his disposition is utterly bad. Like the rest of his rearing of cattle and horses-on the pampas of kind he sleeps all day, but is very active at night. Buenos Ayres for example, has been carried out on His padded feet help him to steal upon his victim a very extensive scale, and in a spirit of great enter. with complete surprise, and his agility among trees, prise, the jaguars and other beasts of prey finding which he climbs with an activity that pussy might plenty, if not peace, provided for them at their envy, has worked dismay, if not death, to countless doors, as it were, flourish apace. Farther north, monkeys. So strong is he, he can fell an ox to the on the other hand, in the regions of the Orinoco, earth with one blow of his paw. Fortunately, he is where the dense forest not only affords less readilynot given to hunting in troops; as soon as he is able got food, but also harbours boa constrictors and to provide for himself, he quits the paternal roof, other serpents, which are amongst the jaguar's and sets up housekeeping on his own account. deadliest enemies, his lines can scarcely be said to Leading thus a solitary existence, his temper not have fallen in pleasant places. The black jaguar unnaturally is savage, and his manners stealthy is the largest and most cruel variety. The Indians and cunning.
declare that when, in search of prey, it loses itself The jaguar of the Amazons is the subject of a
in the forest it makes itself quite at home among good deal of superstitious regard on the part of the the trees—an arboreal existence that causes innatives, who look upon it as a species of demon, for tense terror, and doubtless disgust, to the monkeys this among other reasons, that it is a clever fisher. and other animals, whose leafy quarters have been Choosing a tree which projects from a river-bank, thus wantonly intruded upon. he stretches himself at full length upon the out- The illustrious Humboldt and his party were kept standing branch, and from time to time slightly in a perpetual state of alarm every night, as they agitates the water with a gentle twitch of his tail. travelled through the jaguar country, by the yells An unsuspecting fish soon rises to the surface with of these brutes, which followed the camp in the a view to securing a toothsome morsel ; but no hope of seizing some of the horses. Humboldt himsooner does it come within reach of the carnivorous self had a narrow escape. He was one day walking angler overhead, than with a well-directed stroke of towards a river, when he noticed a jaguar lying the paw, the unfortunate denizen of lake or river is about eighty paces distant, under the shade of a hurled to the bank to be consumed at leisure. tree. Happily the animal's gaze seemed to be Even tortoises have been landed in a similar way. directed upon a herd of capybaras (which form
Residence for any length of time in the tracts of most commonly the jaguar's food in that part of forest patronised by this creature does not, one South America where they are found) crossing the would imagine, offer a pleasant prospect to those stream. Making as wide a circuit as he could, whose duties render such sojourn necessary.
A and walking as noiselessly and with as little move. civil engineer, professionally engaged in Nicar- ment as possible, Humboldt at last safely reached agua, sleeping peacefully in his hammock, slung his encampment. On the Indians turning out in between a couple of trees, had his slumbers rudely search of the jaguar, it was found to have disdisturbed one night. He was awakened by a appeared in the meanwhile. Too probably the heavy body striking the edge of his hammock, and herd of capybaras had been diminished by one.