Jun 16, 2014

Lobo, Rag and Vixen

by Ernest Thompson Seton

I thought this book was awfully familiar when I started reading it on my kindle on the plane; it wasn't until halfway through that I realized I had read it before in a different collection. It contains four stories selected from Wild Animals I Have Known. So it was an unexpected re-read; and I think I actually enjoyed it more the second time around.

The first story is about the wolf leader of a pack that preys on cattle, and all the ranchers' attempts to shoot or poison him. The wolf is finally brought down when they manage to kill a female from the pack and Lobo comes looking for his dead mate. The second story is about the lives of a grouse family, how the mother raises her young and the adventures of one grouse cock when it grows up. I was piqued by an apparent error: the story recounts how one by one young partridges are lost, only a few of the original twelve survive into adulthood. But after telling how the first three are lost, the number of chicks is suddenly seven. I kept thinking- wait, did I miss something? what happened to the other two? O well. A similar survival story is presented in Rags, about a young rabbit and how its mother teaches survival skills, the many ways to evade enemies. The final story is about a fox family, how the parents raise the young foxes until the male fox is shot for killing chickens. Then the den is discovered and most of the cubs killed; the last cub is chained in the farmyard where the mother brings it food and tries in vain to free it. The final, sad scene shows the mother fox killing her cub when she cannot release it from the chain- better it die than live a prisoner.

Reading the kindle edition I missed out on the illustrations, but found a sampling online. Here is one from each of the stories: the wolf Lobo and his mate Blanca, the baby grouse all in a row learning to drink, the rabbit Rags with its mother, the fox (delighted in watching a dog trying to unravel its trail I think).
Rating: 3/5    pages, 1899

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