The Goat by Francis C. Woodworth

Goats have been taught to perform a great many wonderful exploits. The celebrated traveler, Dr. Clarke, gives a very curious account of a goat which he came across in Arabia. This goat would perform some most surprising feats of dexterity. "We met," he says, "an Arab with a goat, which he led about the country to exhibit, in order to gain a livelihood. He had taught this animal, while he accompanied its movements with a song, to mount upon little cylindrical blocks of wood, placed successively one above another, and resembling in shape the dice belonging to a backgammon table. In this manner the goat stood, first on the top of two; afterward of three, four, five, and six, until it remained balanced upon the summit of them all, elevated several feet above the ground, and with its fore feet collected upon a single point, without throwing down the disjointed fabric on which it stood. The diameter of the upper cylinder, on which its four feet alternately remained until the Arab had ended his ditty, was only two inches, and the length of each was six inches. The most curious part of the performance took place afterward; for the Arab, to convince us of the animal's attention to the turn of the air, sometimes interrupted the ordinary da capo, or repeat, and as often as he did so, the goat tottered, and appeared uneasy. When the man suddenly stopped, in the middle of his song, the animal fell to the ground."

A farmer in Scotland missed one of his goats, when his flock came home at night. Being afraid the missing animal would get among the young trees in his nursery, he sent two boys, wrapped up warm in their plaid cloaks, to watch all night. In the morning, these boys climbed up the brow of a hill near by, to hunt for the wanderer. They found her after a long search. She was on the brow of a hill, and her young kid was by her side. This faithful mother was defending the kid from the attack of a fox. The enemy was using all the cunning and art he was master of, to get possession of the little fellow, while the old goat was presenting her horns in every direction, as he made his sallies. The boys shouted at the top of their voices, in order to drive the fox away. But Master Renard was probably aware that they would not dare to touch him. At any rate, he kept up the assault. At last, getting out of patience with the goat, he made a more resolute effort to seize the kid; and in an instant all three of the animals rolled off the precipice, and were killed by the fall. The fox was found at the bottom of the gorge, with the goat's horns piercing his body.

A story is told by Mr. Bingley, which illustrates, in a very forcible manner, the gratitude and affection of the goat. After the final suppression of the Scottish rebellion of 1715, by the decisive battle of Preston, a gentleman who had taken a very active share in it escaped to the West Highlands, to the residence of a female relative, who afforded him an asylum. As, in consequence of the strict search which was made after the ringleaders, it was soon judged unsafe for him to remain in the house of his friend, he was conducted to a cavern in a sequestered situation, and furnished with a supply of food. The approach to this lonely abode consisted of a small aperture, through which he crept, dragging his provisions along with him. A little way from the mouth of the cave the roof became elevated, but on advancing, an obstacle obstructed his progress. He soon perceived that, whatever it might be, the object was a living one; but unwilling to strike at a venture with his dirk, he stooped down, and discovered a goat and her kid lying on the ground. The animal was evidently in great pain, and feeling her body and limbs, he ascertained that one of her legs had been fractured. He bound it up with his garter, and offered her some of his bread; but she refused to eat, and stretched out her tongue, as if intimating that her mouth was parched with thirst. He gave her water, which she drank greedily, and then she ate the bread. At midnight he ventured from the cave, pulled a quantity of grass and the tender branches of trees, and carried them to the poor sufferer, which received them with demonstrations of gratitude. The only thing which this fugitive had to arrest his attention in this dreary abode, was administering comfort to the goat; and he was, indeed, thankful to have any living creature beside him. She quickly recovered, and became tenderly attached to him. It happened that the servant who was intrusted with the secret of his retreat fell sick, when it became necessary to send another with provisions. The goat, on this occasion, happening to be lying near the mouth of the cavern, opposed his entrance with all her might, butting him furiously; the fugitive, hearing a disturbance, went forward, and receiving the watchword from his new attendant, interposed, and the faithful goat permitted him to pass. So resolute was the animal on this occasion, that the gentleman was convinced she would have died in his defence.