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

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

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HYENAS AND CHILDREN               253
a herd of cattle are feeding, and to frighten them into running away. If they fly, he follows and bites the hindermost animals ; but if they make a stand, he seldom or never fights.
He may always be found prowling about African battle­fields, after the dead bodies, or hiding amidst the ruins of a deserted city, waiting for some unsuspecting creature to come past; but his greed is equal to his cowardice, and he infinitely prefers human flesh to any other, when he can get it without danger to himself. In some parts of Africa hyenas will actually pass by a calf which is tied up inside the dwelling-house, and will take up a sleeping child from its mother's side, moving it so gently that neither child nor mother wakes.
This horrible event happened more than once in the family of a man named Dassa, who lived in the land of the Kaffirs. One night, when all were sleeping soundly, a great hyena (or wolf, as it is called in those parts) stole softly into the house, and picking up a little boy, made for the door. Luckily, however, the child woke before it was beyond help, and its cries brought its father to the rescue. The hyena dropped his prey, and the boy escaped, thankful to get off with a torn cheek.
The next night the father lit a bigger fire than before
—very few animals will venture past a fire—and lay down
to sleep with his longest spear in his hand. But the
hyena knew better than to come back so soon, and if he
peeped in longingly, nobody was any the wiser.
Several nights passed; the boy's cheek was almost well, and the fright nearly forgotten. But one morning, when they all woke, another brother was nowhere to be seen. They searched high and low, with beating hearts, and at length they came on the trail of a hyena, which they followed up. Then at last the father came on some­thing which he recognised as having belonged to the boy, but nothing more was ever heard of the little fellow himself. The terrible creature had managed to move him
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