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

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

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372            HOW THE REINDEER LIVE
man at a distance of five or six hundred paces, and as their eyes are as good as their ears, the huntsman has much ado to get up to them. They are dainty in their food, choosing out only the most delicate of the Alpine plants, and their skins cannot be as tough as they look, for they are very sensitive to the bites of mosquitoes, gnats, and particularly of midges. Reindeer are very cautious, as many hunters have found to their cost, and mistrustful of men ; but are ready to be friendly with any cows or horses they may come across, which must make the task of taming them a great deal easier. They have their regular hours for meals too, and early in the mornings and late in the evenings may be seen going out for their breakfasts and suppers, which, in summer, consist, in the highlands, of the leaves and flowers of the snow-ranunculus, reindeer sorrel, a favourite kind of grass, and, better than all, the young shoots of the dwarf birch. In the afternoons they lie down and rest, and choose for their place of repose a patch of snow, or a glacier if one is at hand.
In order to tame a reindeer, you must catch him when he is very young, and even then it is no use to expect him to become as friendly as a cow or a horse. He always has something half wild about him, which peeps out every now and then when you least expect it, and often when it is extremely inconvenient. The tame reindeer is his master's pride and stay, his joy and his riches, and often his torment too! A Laplander who owns a herd of a few hundred reindeer thinks himself the happiest man on earth, and would not change lots with anybody. Yet, after all, it almost seems as if he belonged to the reindeer, and not that the reindeer belonged to him ! Where they choose to go, he must follow, and neither marshy ground, nor seas, nor rivers, nor anything else, make any differ­ence to them. For months he spends his life in the open air, bitten by insects all the summer, and by frost all the winter, for he continually finds himself in places where no wood is t» be got, so he cannot have even the comfort
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