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

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

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No place could be more lovely and peaceful; and after making a hearty supper of perch and broiled duck, Catlin went for a stroll to explore a little further.
Five hundred miles is a long way to ride, and in the course of his journey through the prairies Catlin had to cross several of the big rivers which run into the Missouri or the Mississippi. This was not always easy, for there were no bridges to be found, and the streams were often both deep and rapid. There was also another danger to be feared, besides that of being drowned or falling a prey to the Indians; and this was the very deep ditches or sunken streams, with their tops entirely hidden by the long grass, into which a horse might suddenly fall and injure himself and his rider. After a while, Catlin learned to be on the look-out for these pitfalls, and to know their signs, and as they had to be crossed somehow, there was nothing for it but to go at them boldly, and to trust to luck to getting out again. This was generally a very difficult matter; the streams were often full of mud, and till you were in the middle of them you had no notion how deep they were, and not always then. On one occasion Catlin had ridden along the edge of a stream of this kind, in order to find a ford, but as this seemed hopeless, he plunged in at a place where it was six or eight yards wide—as to the bottom, they never touched that at all. They made for the bank, which was of clay, and rose straight out of the water. Catlin managed to catch hold of the top and drag himself up, clutching Charley's bridle in his hand; but he saw directly it was quite impossible for the poor horse to follow him. Still holding the bridle, Catlin pushed his way for a mile through the tall grass, that often closed in above his head, Charley patiently swimming all the while in the thick muddy water. At length it was clear he could not keep up much longer, and his master, nearly as exhausted as himself, was just about to drop the bridle, and leave him to his fate, when they came to a spot where the banks had been
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