The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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COWPER AND HIS HARES                  31
Bess, and could have had dozens more if Cowper had wanted them, for the villagers offered to catch him enough to have filled the whole countryside if he would only give the order.
However, Cowper decided that three would be ample for his purposes, and as he wished them to learn nice clean habits, he began with his own hands to build them a house. The house contained a large hall and three bedrooms, each with a separate bed, and it was astonish­ing how soon every hare knew its own bedroom, and how careful he was (for in spite of their names they were all males) never to go into those of his friends.
Very soon all three made themselves much at home in their comfortable quarters, and Puss, the first comer, would jump on his master's lap and, standing up on his hind legs, would bite the hair on his temples. He enjoyed being carried about like a baby, and would even go to sleep in Cowper's arms, which is a very strange thing for a hare to do. Once Puss got ill, and then the poet took care to keep him apart from the other two, for animals have a horror of their sick companions, and are generally very unkind to them. So he nursed Puss him­self, and gave him all sorts of herbs and grasses as medi­cine, and at last Puss began to get better, and took notice of what was going on round him. When he was strong enough to take his first little walk, his pleasure knew no bounds; and in token of his gratitude he licked his master's hand, first back, then front, and then between every finger. As soon as he felt himself quite strong again, he went with the poet every day, after breakfast, into the garden, where he lay all the morning under a trailing cucumber, sometimes asleep, but every now and then eating a leaf or two by way of luncheon. If the poet was ever later than usual in leaving the house, Puss would down on his knees and look up into his eyes with a pleading expression, or, if these means failed, he would seize his master's coat between his teeth, and pull as
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