The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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FAIRY RINGS
365
After passing a winter amidst the deep snow of the north they are a great deal fatter and stronger than if they had been spending it in the sunny south. For the grass and juicy plants on which the buffaloes feed have been completely dried up during a long hot autumn, while in Canada the animals can generally manage to get good grass by scraping away the snow, which has kept the herbage wholesome and fresh under its white covering.
Still, in Canada, as well as in Texas, the summers are very hot, and the poor buffaloes, in their thick coats, suffer a great deal. So they seek out some low plain, where they know by experience that there is a chance of finding a marshy place left by the winter's rains. What happiness for the poor tired creatures who have been walking perhaps for hours under the burning sun, carrying their huge bodies, which often weigh as much as 2,000 lb., to come on one of these little oases, as they wrould be called in Arabia or the Sahara! But even the prospect of a cool bath does not affect their good manners and sense of discipline. They all hold back and let the leader of the herd come forward. He sinks carefully on one knee in the soft green place, and putting down his head, stirs up the wet earth, so that the water gradually bubbles up, and a little pool is formed, though, to be sure, it is more liquid mud than anything else. When the bull has got all the water he thinks he is likely to have, he throwrs himself on his side, and turns himself round two or three times till he has made a circular pond large enough to cover him almost entirely. Then he feels com­fortable again, and comes out, such a mass of mud from head to foot that it is wonderful how he manages to walk at all.
Sometimes it happens that the leader of the herd will not take the trouble to make the pool for himself, but suffers one of the other bulls to begin the work, which is the most difficult part. However, when this is done, the leader (who has been chosen by the rest as being stronger
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