Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/54

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they all ate, or rather gorged it, the deceived dog looking vacant and bewildered for a moment, after which he sat under the tree and barked at them inanely."

Crows have also been observed to hold general assemblies whose functions seem to be those of a criminal court. It often takes a day or two for the meeting to assemble; a palaver is then held, at the close of which the whole body sets upon two or three apparent culprits and kills them. No witness of such a scene can fail to be convinced that the accused have had a fair trial, and have not been put to death without cause.

The higher mental faculties are more developed in the elephant than in any other animal, except the dog and the monkey. The general fact that elephants are habitually employed in parts of India for storing timber, building, etc., shows a high level of docile intelligence. But perhaps in no labor in which they are employed do they display a more wonderful sagacity than in helping to catch wild elephants. A herd of wild elephants is driven into a corral, and two tame ones ridden in among them. The decoys will crowd up on either side of a wild one, and protect the nooser until a rope is fastened round the wild elephant's leg, when the tame one, to whose collar the other end of the rope is attached, will drag the captive out, and wind the rope round a tree, while the other decoy prevents any interference from the herd, and pushes the captive toward the tree, thus enabling the first one to take in the slack of the rope. The conduct of the tame ones during all these proceedings is truly wonderful. They display the most perfect conception of every movement, both of the object to be attained and of the means to accomplish it. On one occasion, in tying up a large elephant, he contrived, before he could be hauled close up to the tree, to walk once or twice round it, carrying the rope with him; the decoy, perceiving the advantage he had thus gained over the nooser, walked up of her own accord, and pushed him backward with her head, till she made him unwind himself again; upon which the rope was hauled tight and made fast.

One could almost fancy there was a display of dry humor in the manner in which the decoys thus play with the fears of the wild herd, and make light of their efforts at resistance. When reluctant they shove them forward, when violent they drive them back; when the wild ones throw themselves down, the tame ones butt them with head and shoulders and force them up again; and, when it is necessary to keep them down, they kneel upon them, and prevent them from rising, till the ropes are secured.

A remarkable degree of cunning was displayed by an elephant who had been chained to a tree, and whose driver had then made an oven at a short distance, into which he put some rice-cakes to bake. The man covered his cakes with stones and grass, and went away. When he was gone, the elephant with his trunk unfastened the chain round