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Two goats once met on a high narrow path, where there was just room for one to walk. There was a high rock rising close to their shoulders on one side, and on the other was a place so steep that it would have made you dizzy to look down. They could not go back without danger of falling, and they could not pass each other; what do you think they could do, but stay there and starve? It seemed for a little while as if they were considering about it ́; at last one bent his knees and laid down, and the other walked safely over his back.
The ibex feeds during the night in the highest woods that grow on the mountains; but as soon as the sun rises it begins to climb, eating the grass or whatever it finds, till it has got up where it is too high for trees to grow. They go in small companies of eight or ten, and lie down in sunny places among the rocks while the sun is hot; but about three or four o'clock in the afternoon they begin to go down again towards the woods. They can climb up rather more easily than they can get down, because their fore legs are shorter than the others.
See how the ibex or wild goat is spoken of in the Bible. In the one hundred and fourth Psalm
you may find the words, "The high hills are & refuge for the wild goats;" and another place where the animal is mentioned is in the twentyfourth chapter of first Samuel: "Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats." I should like to have you read with me the whole history of Saul and David in the Bible, so that we might talk about it, for it is very interesting; but now I can only write down what this one verse means. David had been made king over Israel by the command of God; but Saul, who was a very wicked man, was determined to kill him. So David was obliged to fly for his life, with only a few faithful friends; and month after month he hid himself in one place and another, so that Saul might not find him. At last he came to a wild, gloomy place, where nobody lived, near the Dead Sea: it was rocky, and there were many wild goats there. He thought he was safe now; but Saul heard where he was and came after him.
One night Saul and his men went into a large dark cave among the mountains, and behold David and his friends were already there; but they were hidden, so that Saul did not know it. Da
vid's men wanted very much to kill Saul, now that he was in their power, but David would not allow them. He only cut off a small piece from the robe that Saul wore, and he was sorry afterwards that he had done even as much as this. He did not hurt Saul in the least, but allowed him to go safely out of the cave, though he might have killed him as easily as not. Was not this returning good for evil?
THE JERBOA, or MOUSE.
You will not find the name of the Jerboa in the Bible; but it is supposed to be the same animal that is called a mouse in the 17th verse of the 66th chapter of Isaiah, "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord;" and also in Leviticus, where God is telling the children of Israel what animals they may be allowed to eat, and also what they must not taste. He says, ce These also shall be unclean to
you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind." Whether the Jerboa is the same animal or not, the Israelites must have been well acquainted with it, for it is found in great numbers in Syria and Egypt, and other countries mentioned in the Bible. They like to live where the soil is sandy, and make their burrows, or holes to live in, in the sides of sand-hills. These burrows are often several yards long, and the part where they sleep is made soft with grass.
The Jerboa is about as large as a rat, and its color is a tawny yellow, something like that of dried lemon-peel. Its fur is very smooth and soft; its eyes are full and round, and its head is much like that of a young rabbit. When it eats, it sits and hold its food in its fore-paws, very much as a squirrel does.
There is a very great and curious difference in the length of its legs; those in front being so short that you would hardly notice them, and those behind very long. It bounds along over the ground very rapidly; so that the greyhound, which is one of the swiftest of dogs, is often unable to overtake it. It seems, when you first look at it, to use only its hind legs in
jumping, but this is not so. When it is about to take a leap, it raises its body upon the toes of its hind feet, keeping the balance by the help of its long tail. It springs and comes down on its short fore legs, but does it so very quickly that you can hardly see how it is done, and the animal seems to be upright all the time.
They appear to be very fond of each other's company, and great numbers are usually found together. They sleep during the day, but like the hare and rabbit, go out of their burrows to eat and to play as soon as it begins to be dark.
The kite is mentioned but once or twice in the Bible. In Leviticus, 11: 13,14, it is named among the birds which the Israelites were not allowed to use for food. "And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination; the eagle, and the ossifrage, and