Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/82

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72
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

larger and stronger than himself. As they approached, the rumblings of rage and revenge could be again heard, which grew louder as they came nearer. The cow took in the situation at once and was now terror-stricken. As her assailants rushed into the yard, she dodged them and rushed out at life-and-death speed, and away toward the rest of the stock in the field, with her pursuers close in her track.

Now, I submit that this is one of the cases which furnish incontrovertible proof that animals do reason. No amount of mere instinct could avail that steer in conceiving and carrying out the complex "plan of campaign" which he adopted to take revenge on the selfish and cruel old mother who refused to share her ration with him and punished him besides. The plan he so readily adopted required not only feeling to prompt it, but thought and reason to carry it out. The end to be attained was the punishment of his assailant, which he was not able to inflict himself, and he adopted the means necessary to accomplish the end. This was thought and reason, and not only so, but there was language as well, for what else were the threatening sounds he uttered and which the mother well understood; and how else could he have communicated his grievance and desires to his companion in the field? It will also be noted here that the steer exhibited in this case not only a measure of what is called man's highest faculty—reason—but a good deal of another passion which often rankles in the human breast—viz., revenge. It would be no loss to us to allow the "lower animal" to monopolize this "animal propensity."

The horse, as we all know, is even more of a reasoning animal than the cow. I knew of a horse who would leave his pasture under cover of darkness, and go some distance off over several fences into a field of grain, where he would help himself, and invariably return before daylight to his own pasture without disturbing a single rail on any of the fences he jumped. Others have had a similar experience. Here is not only reason, but a high degree of shrewd cunning worthy of a James or a Scotland Yard detective! I once had a wise, motherly old brood-mare who had lost an eye. In the case of her first foal after that loss I noticed that she would at first hurt the young colt when it happened to be on her blind side and she would make a move in that direction, sometimes knocking it down and hurting it with her feet. But very soon I perceived that when the colt was out of her sight on her blind side she would not stir till she first looked around for it to ascertain if it was in danger, and when she would not be able to get her head round far enough to see it, she would move slowly and with the utmost caution till she could see it. Here were manifested not only intelligence, but what the phrenologists call cautiousness, locality, and philoprogenitiveness.