The Doe of Oate.
--In the severe and too memorable winter of 1709, when the wheat, olives, vines and fruit-trees were frozen in France
, the wolves committed frightful ravages in the interior of that country, and even attacked men. One of these ferocious beasts after having broken a window, entered a thatched cottage in the forest of Orte, hard by Angouleme.
Two children, one six and the other eight years old, lay asleep waiting the return of their mother, who was gone to gather some wood to make a fire with.
Seeing no resistance, the wolf leaped upon the bed to devour the tender prey.
Seized with a sudden fright, these two boys slipped under the mattress, and there lay flat without breathing.
So near the flesh and not being able to reach it immediately, the murderous animal became more excited; he began to tear the bedclothes to shreds.
Weak as these obstacles were, nevertheless they were the saving of the boys' lives.
While the enraged wolf sought them, an enormous mastiff which followed their mother, (his mistress,) into the wood, came up now in time to deliver them.
The dog caught the scent at some distance from the house, to which the villagers, loaded with wood, were slowly walking.
He ran with the swiftness of a deer, entered like a lion, and fell on the enemy which now crouched into a corner.
Seizing the cowardly wolf by the throat, he dragged him to the coor, and strangled him upon the road.
Let any one picture to himself the frightened state of the poor mother at her return home.
She sees at her feet a dead wolf; her dog covered with blood; the bed ransacked; the children no more.
Having a presentiment of what was passing — his mistress' distress — the dog came forward with an energetic solicitude, and, returning to the bed, he dives his head several times under the mattress, seeming to say to her she would fold there what was most precious.
The mother approaching the bed in tears, stretched out her hand and feet her boys.
She hastily withdraws them.
One moment longer and they would have been suffocated.
As soon as they recovered their senses, they frankly told her of their perils, how the wolf entered, and how they were saved.