“The Story of My Cousins,” by Henry S. Salt. (Watts & Co. 2s. 6d. net.)
This delightful little book is a series of entertaining biographies of the animal friends of the author, who tells us that the friendships were quite spontaneous and unsolicited.
With the unerring instinct of animals, the author himself was adopted as cousin or guardian by “Master,” a kitten who was obviously dissatisfied with his former home and mistress. The history of “Master” and his encounters with his brother and sister cats, is related with humour and pathos. He was somewhat aggressive and generally victorious in evicting alien pussies who trespassed in his garden, but when “Malenka,” a neglected and untamed kitten, became one of the household. “Master” responded to the appeals made to him on humanitarian grounds and tolerated the new-comer.
Particularly touching is the story of “Tawno Chikno,” the rook who was rescued by the author’s wife, and found a home in Derbyshire in the garden of Mr. Edward Carpenter. An incident which reveals the secret love and confidence bestowed on his wife by birds and animals is best told in the author’s own words:—
“While we remained at Millthorpe all went well with Tawno; and when we left him there he seemed to be happily established; but a few days after our return to London his mistress received tidings that he had disappeared. She at once travelled up again; and after some search the bird came to her call from a thicket in the same valley. She then arranged for him to be an outdoor lodger at a neighbouring farm, but again, two or three weeks later, came the news that he was missing. Again his mistress went to the rescue; and it happened that she arrived at the farm on a Saturday afternoon, when a large party from Sheffield was assembled on the lawn and in the stackyard for tea. Of the rook there was no trace; he had not been seen for days; yet she had not called more than twice or thrice when, to the amazement of the merry-makers—to whom, as town-dwellers, friendship with a wild bird must have seemed a miracle—down, down came Tawno Chikno with a loud cry of welcome, and perched familiarly on her shoulder.”
In the last chapter the writer acknowledges his indebtedness to his cousins for what they have taught him. He learned that animals are capable of love and friendship which differ only in degree (and not always that) from the love of human beings, and that we should always treat animals with politeness of speech and manner.
In reading this charming little book one recognises the kinship between human and sub-human kingdoms, which can only be fully realised by extending to animals that service and sympathy to which they are ever ready to respond.
The Vegetarian News, Vol. 4 No. 38, February 1924, p. 36