WOLVES NURTURING CHILDREN IN THEIR DENS.
Wolves are numerous in the neighbourhood of Sultanpoor, and, indeed, all along the banks of the Goomtree river, among the ravines that intersect them; and a great many children are carried off by them from towns, villages and camps. It is exceedingly difficult to catch them, and hardly any of the Hindoo population, save those of the very lowest class, who live a vagrant life and bivouac in the jungles, or in the suburbs of towns and villages, will attempt to catch or kill them. All other Hindoos have a superstitious dread of destroying or even injuring them; and a village community, within the boundary of whose lands a drop of wolf's blood has fallen, believes itself doomed to destruction. The class of little vagrant communities, above-mentioned, who have no superstitious dread of destroying any living thing, eat jackalls and all kinds of reptiles, and catch all kinds of animals, either to feed upon them themselves, or to sell them to those who wish to keep or hunt them.
But it is remarkable that they very seldom catch Wolves, though they know all their dens, and could easily dig them out as they dig out other animals. This is supposed to arise from the profit which they make by the gold and silver bracelets, necklaces, and other ornaments, which are worn by the children, whom the Wolves carry to their dens and devour, and are left at the entrance of these dens. A party of these men lately brought to our camp alive a very large Hyæna, which was let loose, and hunted down by European officers and the clerks of my office. One of the officers asked them whether this were not the reason why they did not bring Wolves to the camp, to be hunted down in the same way, since officers would give more for brutes that ate children than for such as fed only on dogs or carrion. They dared not deny, though they were afraid or ashamed to acknowledge that it was; I have myself no doubt that this is the reason, and that they do make a good deal in this way, from the children's ornaments, which they find at the entrance of the Wolves' dens. In every part of India a great number of children are every day murdered for the sake of their ornaments, and the fearful examples that come daily to the knowledge of parents, and the injunctions of the civil authorities, are unavailing against this desire to see their young children dressed out in gold and silver ornaments.
There is now (Feb. 1850) at Sultanpoor, a boy who was found alive in a Wolf's den, near Chandour, ten miles from Sultanpoor, about two years and a half ago. A trooper, sent by the native governor of the district to Chandour, to demand payment of some revenue, was passing along the bank of the river, near Chandour, about noon, when he saw a large female Wolf leave her den, followed by three whelps and a little boy. The boy went on all fours, and seemed to be on the best possible terms with the old dam and the three whelps, and the mother seemed to guard all four with equal care: they all went down to the river and drank, without perceiving the trooper, who sat upon his horse watching them; as soon as they were about to turn back, the trooper pushed on to cut off and secure the boy; but he ran as fast as the whelps could, and kept up with the old one. The ground was uneven, and the trooper's horse could not overtake them. They all entered the den, and the trooper assembled some people from Chandour with pickaxes, and dug into the den. When they had dug in about six or eight feet, the old Wolf bolted with her three whelps and the boy. The trooper mounted and pursued, followed by the fleetest young men of the party; and, as the ground over which they had to fly was more even, he headed them, and turned the whelps and boy back upon the men on foot, who secured the boy, and let the old dam and her three cubs go on their way.
They took the boy to the village, but had to tie him, for he was very restive, and struggled hard to rush into every hole or den they came near. They tried to make him speak, but could get nothing from him but an angry growl or snarl. He was kept for several days at the village, and a large crowd assembled every day to see him. When a grown-up person came near him he became alarmed, and tried to steal away; but when a child came near him, he rushed at it with a fierce snarl, like that of a dog, and tried to bite it. When any cooked meat was put near him he rejected it in disgust; but when any raw meat was offered, he seized it with avidity, put it on the ground under his hands, like a dog, and ate it with evident pleasure. He would not let any one come near while he was eating, but he made no objection to a dog's coming, and sharing his food with him. The trooper remained with him four or five days, and then returned to the Governor, leaving the boy in charge to the Rajah of Hasunpoor. He related all that he had seen, and the boy was soon after sent to the European officer, commanding the First Regiment of Oude Local Infantry, at Sultanpoor, Captain Nicholetts, by order of the Rajah of Hasunpoor, who was at Chaudour, and saw the boy when the trooper first brought him to the village. This account is taken from the Rajah's own report of what had taken place. Captain Nicholetts made him over to the charge of his servants, who take great care of him, but can never get him to speak a word. He is very inoffensive except when teased (Captain Nicholetts says), and will then growl surlily at the person who teases him. He has come to eat anything that is thrown to him, but always prefers raw flesh, which he devours most greedily. He will drink a whole pitcher of butter-milk when put before him, without seeming to draw breath. He can never be induced to keep on any kind of clothing, even in the coldest weather. A quilt, stuffed with cotton, was given to him, when it became very cold this season, but he tore it to pieces, and ate a portion of it, cotton and all, with his bread every day. He is very fond of bones, particularly uncooked ones, which he masticates apparently with as much ease as meat. He has eaten half a lamb at a time without any apparent effort, and is very fond of taking up earth and small stones and eating them. His features are coarse and his countenance repulsive, and he is very filthy in his habits. He continues to be fond of dogs and jackalls, and all other four-footed animals that come near him; and always allows them to feed with him if he happens to be eating when they approach. (Open Footnote 1 || Close Footnote 1)
At Chupra, twenty miles east from Sultanpoor, lived a cultivator, with his wife and son, who was then three years of age. In March, 1843, the man went to cut his crop of wheat and pulse, and the woman took her basket, and went with him to glean, leading her son by the arm. The boy had lately recovered from a severe scald on the left knee, which he got in the cold weather, from tumbling into the fire, at which he had been warming himself, while his parents were at work. As the father was reaping, and the mother gleaning, the boy sat upon the grass. A Wolf rushed upon him suddenly from behind a bush, caught him up by the loins, and made off with him towards the ravines. The father was at a distance at the time, but the mother followed, screaming as loud as she could for assistance. The people of the village ran to her aid, but they soon lost sight of the Wolf and his prey.
She heard nothing more of her boy for six years, and had, in that interval, lost her husband. At the end of that time, two sipahees came, in the month of February, 1849, from the town of Singramow, which is ten miles from Chupra, on the bank of the Khobae rivulet. While they sat on the border of the jungle, which extended down to the stream, watching for hogs, which commonly came down to drink at that time in the morning, they saw there three Wolf cubs and a boy come out from the jungle, and go down together to the stream to drink. The sipahees watched them till they had drank, and were about to return, when they rushed towards them. All four ran towards a den in the ravines. The sipahees followed as fast as they could, but the three cubs had got in before the sipahees could come up with them, and the boy was half way in, when one of the sipahees caught him by the hind leg and drew him back. He seemed very angry and ferocious, bit at them, and seized in his teeth the barrel of one of the guns which they put forward to keep him off, and shook it. They, however, secured him, brought him home, and kept him for twenty days. They could, for that time, make him eat nothing but raw flesh, and they fed him upon hares and birds. They found it difficult to provide him with sufficient food, and took him to the bazaar, in the village of Koeleepoor, and there let him go, to be fed by the charitable people of the place, till he might be recognised and claimed by his parents. One market-day, a man from the village of Chupra happened to see him in the bazaar, and on his return mentioned the circumstance to his neighbours. The poor cultivator's widow, on hearing this, asked him to describe the boy more minutely; when she found that the boy had the mark of a scald on the left knee, and three marks of the teeth of an animal on each side of his loins. The widow told him that her boy, when taken off, had lately recovered from a scald on the left knee, and was seized by the loins when the Wolf took him off, and that the boy he had seen must be her lost child.
She went off forthwith to the Koolee Bazaar, and, in addition to the two marks above-described, discovered a third mark on his thigh, with which her child was born. She took him home to her village, where lie was recognised by all her neighbours. She kept him for two months, and all the sporting landowners in the neighbourhood sent her game for him to feed upon. He continued to dip his face in the water to drink, but he sucked in the water, and did not lap it up like a dog or wolf. His body continued to smell offensively. When the mother went to her work the boy always ran into the jungle, and she could never get him to speak. He followed his mother for what he could get to eat, but showed no particular affection for her, and she could never bring herself to feel much for him; and after two months, finding him of no use to her, and despairing of even making any thing of him, she left him to the common charity of the village. He soon after learnt to eat bread when it was given to him, and ate whatever else he could get during the day, but always went off to the jungle at night. He used to mutter something, but could never be got to articulate anything distinctly. The front of his knees and elbows had become hardened, from going on all-fours with the Wolves. If any clothes are put on him, he takes them off, and commonly tears them to pieces in doing so. He still prefers raw flesh to cooked, and feeds on carrion whenever lie can get it. The boys of the village are in the habit of amusing themselves by catching frogs and throwing them to him, and he catches and eats them. When a bullock dies and the skin is removed, he goes and eats of it like a village dog. The boy is still in the village, and this is the description given of him by the mother herself, who still lives at Chupra. She has never experienced any return of affection for him, nor has he shown any such feeling for her. Her story is confirmed by all her neighbours, and by the head landholders, cultivators, and shopkeepers of the village. (Open Footnote 2 || Close Footnote 2)
The Rajah of Hasunpoor Bundooa mentions, as a fact within his own knowledge, besides the others, for the truth of which he vouches, that in the year 1843 a lad came to the town of Hasunpoor, who had evidently been brought up by Wolves. He seemed to be twelve years of age when he saw him; was very dark, and ate flesh, whether cooked or uncooked. He had short hair all over his body when he first came, but having, for a time, as the Rajah states, eaten salt with his food, like all other human beings, the hair, by degrees, disappeared. He could walk like other men on his legs, but could never be taught to speak. He would utter sounds like wild animals, and could be made to understand signs very well. He used to sit at a bunneea's shop in the Bazaar, but was at last recognised by his parents, and taken off. What became of him afterwards he knows not. The Rajah's statement regarding this lad is confirmed by all the people of this town, but none of them know what afterwards became of him.
About the year 1843, a shepherd of the village of Ghutkoree, twelve miles west from the cantonments of Sultanpoor, saw a boy trotting along upon all-fours by the side of a Wolf, one morning as he was out with his flock. With great difficulty he caught the boy, who ran very fast, and brought him home. He fed him for some time, and tried to make him speak, and associate with men or boys, but he failed. He continued to be alarmed at the sight of men, but was brought to Colonel Gray, who commanded the First Oude Local Infantry at Sultanpoor. He and Mrs. Gray, and all the officers in cantonments, saw him often, and kept him for several days. But he soon after ran off into the jungle while the shepherd was asleep. The shepherd afterwards went to reside in another village, and I could not ascertain whether he ever recovered the boy or not.
Zolfukar Khan, a respectable landholder of Bankeepoor, in the estate of Hasunpoor, ten miles east from the Sultanpoor cantonments, mentions that about eight or nine years ago a trooper came to the town with a lad of about nine or ten years of age, whom he had rescued from Wolves among the ravines on the road; that he knew not what to do with him, and left him to the common charity of the village; that he ate everything offered to him, including bread, but before taking it, he carefully smelt at it, and always preferred undressed meat to everything else; that he walked on his legs like other people when he saw him, though there were evident signs, on his knees and elbows, of his having gone very long on all-fours; and when asked to run on all-fours, he used to do so, and went so fast that no one could overtake him; how long he had been with the trooper, or how long it took him to learn to walk on his legs, he knows not. He could not talk or utter any very articulate sounds. He understood signs, and heard exceedingly well, and would assist the cultivators in turning trespassing cattle out of the fields when told by signs to do so. Boodhoo, a Brahmin cultivator of the village, took care of him, and he remained with him for three months, when he was claimed, and taken off by his father, a shepherd, who said that the boy was six years old when the Wolf took him off at night — some four years before. He did not like to leave Boodhoo. The Brahmin and the father were obliged to drag him away. What became of him afterwards he never heard. The lad had no hair upon his body, nor had he any dislike to wear clothes while he saw him. This statement was confirmed by the people of the village.
About seven years ago, a trooper belonging to the king, and in attendance upon Rajah Hurdut Sing, of Bondee, alias Bumnotee, on the left bank of the Ghagra river, in the Bahraetch district, was passing near a small stream which flows into that river, when he saw two Wolf cubs and a boy drinking in the stream. He had a man with him on foot, and they managed to seize the boy, who appeared to be ten years of age. He took him up on the pummel of his saddle, but he was so wild and fierce that he tore the trooper's clothes, and bit him severely in several places, though he had tied his hands together. He brought him to Bondee, where the Rajah had him tied up in his artillery gun-shed, and gave him raw flesh to eat; but he several times cut his ropes and ran off, and after three months the Rajah got tired of him and let him go. He was then taken by a Cashmeeree mimic or comedian (bhand), who fed and took care of him for six months; but at the end of that time he also got tired of him — for his habits were filthy -- and let him go, to wander about the Bondee Bazaar. He one day ran off with a joint of meat from a butcher's shop, and soon after upset some things in the shop of a bunneea, who let fly an arrow at him. The arrow penetrated the boy's thigh. At this time, Sanaollah, a Cashmeer merchant of Lucknow, was at Bondee, selling some shawl goods to the Rajah, on the occasion of his brother's marriage; he had many servants with him, and among them Janoo, a khidmutgar lad, and an old sipahee, named Ramzan Khan. Janoo took compassion upon the poor boy, extracted the arrow from his thigh, and had his wound dressed, and prepared a bed for him under the mango tree, where he himself lodged, but kept him tied to a tent-pin. He would at that time eat nothing but raw flesh. To wean him from this, Janoo, with the consent of his master, gave him rice and pulse to eat. He rejected them for several days, and ate nothing; but Janoo persevered, and by degrees made him eat the balls which he prepared for him; he was fourteen or fifteen days in bringing him to do this. The odour from his body was very offensive, and Janoo had him rubbed with mustard-seed, soaked in water, after the oil had been taken from it (khullee), in the hope of removing this smell. He continued this for some months, and fed him upon rice, pulse, and flour bread, but the odour did not leave him. He had hardened marks upon his knees and elbows, from having gone on all-fours. In about six weeks after he had been tied up under the tree, with a good deal of beating and rubbing of his joints with oil, he was made to stand and walk upon his legs like other human beings. He was never heard to utter more than one articulate sound, and that was "Aboodeea," the name of the little daughter of the Cashmeer mimic, who had treated him with kindness, and for whom he had shown some kind of attachment. In about four months he began to understand and obey signs. He was, by them, made to prepare the hookah, put lighted charcoal upon the tobacco, and bring it to Janoo, or present it to whomsoever he pointed out.
One night, while the boy was lying under the tree near Janoo, Janoo saw two Wolves come up stealthily and smell at the boy. They then touched him, and he got up; and instead of being frightened, the boy put his hands upon their heads, and they began to play with him. They capered around him, and he threw straw and leaves at them. Janoo tried to drive them off, but could not, and became much alarmed; and he called out to the sentry over the guns, Meer Akbur Allee, and told him that the Wolves were going to eat the boy. He replied, "come away, and leave him, or they will eat you also;" but when they saw them begin to play together his fears subsided, and he kept quiet. Gaining confidence by degrees, he drove them away; but after going a little distance they returned, and began to play again with the boy. At last he succeeded in driving them off altogether. The night after three Wolves came, and the boy and they played together. A few nights after four Wolves came, but at no time did more than four come; they came four or five times, and Janoo had no longer any fear of them; and he thinks that the first two that came must have been the two cubs with which the boy was first found, and that they were prevented from seizing him by recognising the smell; they licked his face with their tongues as he put his hands on their heads.
Soon after, his master, Sanaollah, returned to Lucknow, and threatened Janoo to turn him out of his service, unless he let go the boy; he persisted in taking the boy with him, and his master relented. He had a string tied to his arm, and led him along by it, and put a bundle of clothes on his head. As they passed a jungle, the boy would throw down the bundle, and try to run into the jungle; but on being beaten, he would put up his hands in supplication, take up the bundle, and go on; but he soon seemed to forget the beating, and did the same thing at almost every jungle they came through. By degrees he became quite docile. Janoo was one day, about three months after their return to Lucknow, sent away by his master for a day or two on some business, and before his return the boy had gone off, and he could never find him again. About two months after the boy had gone, a woman, of the weaver cast, came with a letter from a relation of the Rajah, Hurdut Sing, to Sanaollah, stating that she resided in the village of Chureyrokotra, on his estate, and had had the son, then about four years of age, taken from her, about five or six years before, by a Wolf; and from the description which she gave of him, he, the Rajah's relation, thought he must be the boy whom his servant Janoo took away with him. She said that her boy had two marks upon him, one on the chest of a boil, and one of something else on the forehead; and as these marks corresponded precisely with those found upon the boy, neither she nor they had any doubt that he was her long lost son. She remained for four months with the merchant Sanaollah, and Janoo, his khidmutgar, at Lucknow; but the boy could not be found, and she returned home, praying that information might be sent to her should he be discovered. Sanaollah, Janoo, and Ramzan Khan, are still at Lucknow, and, before me, have all three declared all the circumstances here stated to be strictly true. The boy was altogether about five months with Sanaollah and his servants from the time they got him; and he had been taken about four months and a half before. The Wolf must have had several litters of whelps during the last six or seven years that the boy was with her. Janoo further adds that he, after a month or two, ventured to try a waistband upon the boy, but he often tore it off in distress or anger. After he had become reconciled to this, in about two months he ventured to put upon him a vest and pair of trousers. He had great difficulty in making him keep them on, with threats and occasional beatings. He would disencumber himself of them whenever left alone, but put them on again in alarm when discovered; and, to the last, often injured or destroyed them, by rubbing them against trees or posts like a beast, when any part of his body itched. This habit he could never break him of. (Open Footnote 3 || Close Footnote 3)
It is remarkable that I can discover no well-established instance of a man who had been nurtured in a Wolf's den having been found. There is, in Lucknow, an old man, who was found in the Oude Tarae when a lad, by the hut of an old hermit, who had died. He is supposed to have been taken from Wolves by this hermit. The trooper who found him brought him to the king some forty years ago, and he has been ever since supported by the king comfortably. He is still called the "wild man of the woods." He was one day sent to me at my request, and I talked with him; his features indicate him to be one of the Tharoo tribe, who are found only in that forest. He is very inoffensive, but speaks little, and that little imperfectly; and he is still impatient of intercourse with his fellow-men, particularly with such as are disposed to tease him with questions. I asked him whether he had any recollection of having been with Wolves ; he said, "the Wolf died long before the old hermit;" but he seemed to recollect nothing more, and there is no mark on his knees or elbows, to indicate that he ever went on all-fours. That he was found as a wild boy in the forest there can be no doubt; but I do not feel at all sure that he ever lived with Wolves. From what I have seen and heard, I should doubt that any boy who had been many years with Wolves, up to the age of eight or ten, could ever attain the average intellect of men. I have never heard of a man who had been spared and nurtured by Wolves, having been found; and as many boys have been recovered from Wolves, after they had been many years with them, we must conclude that, after a time, they either die from living exclusively on animal food, before they attain the age of manhood, or are destroyed by the Wolves themselves, or other beasts of prey in the jungles, from whom they are unable to escape, like the Wolves themselves, from want of the same speed. The Wolf or Wolves, by whom, they have been spared and nurtured, must die, or be destroyed in a few years; and other Wolves may kill and eat them. Tigers generally feed for two or three days upon the bullock they kill, and remain all the time, when not feeding, concealed in the vicinity; if they found such a boy feeding upon their prey, they would certainly kill him, and most likely eat him. If such a boy passed such a dead body, he would certainly feed upon it. Tigers often spring upon and kill dogs and wolves thus found feeding upon their prey. They could more easily kill boys, and would certainly be more disposed to eat them. If the dead body of such a boy were found any where in jungles, or on the plains, it would excite little interest, where dead bodies are so often found exposed, and so soon eaten by dogs, jackalls, vultures, &c, &c, and would scarcely ever lead to any particular inquiry.
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