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 Post subject: Story of A Man-Wolf
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:30 pm 
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The Republican-Freeman
Waukesha, Wisconsin, Friday, August 24, 1888
Story of A Man-Wolf
His Successful Battle with a Hyena
He is Caught in a Trap, and Escapes from a Cage – He Clubs Three Natives to Death and Wounds Two Others.
While with the animal-hunters in the jungles and foot-hills to the north of Benares we heard of a man-wolf. On two former occasions we had received like reports but had given little attention to them. The superstitious natives of India have many strange beliefs. One of them is that a brother who has murdered a brother turns into a man-wolf and roams the jungles one hundred years as a penance. While they hold this animal in fear and terror, as well they may, they reason that if he is killed, another relative of the family must take his place and serve out the remainder of his sentence. Therefore, while they would talk to us of these monsters, they were always very careful not to locate them and bring them into danger. We had long before made up our minds that there was nothing so very queer in finding a wild man in the jungles of India. Children are carried off by semi-wild men or by wild animals almost daily, and even the civilized countries have their wild men roaming through the forests. We were willing to pay a round sum for the capture of a man-wolf, believing he would turn out to be only a wild man, but at the same time a greater curiosity than a gorilla. We had been making our headquarters in a village for several days, baiting our traps for hyenas and having natives on the lookout for serpents, when one mid-afternoon I got into a hammock slung between two trees on the out-skirts of the village and dropped off to sleep. My two white men were already asleep in hammocks some distance away, and much of the natives as were not out for us were lying by to pass the heat of the day. There were two or three children playing at the door of a hut near me but making little or no noise. It was as quiet as if a spell had been placed upon every inhabitant. I had not slept over half an hour when a mosquito bit me on the cheek and stared me up. I lay on my right side, and through the meshes of the hammock could see the edge of the jungle, about forty rods away. The children were still at play and were a hundred feet nearer the jungle than I was. Almost as soon as I opened my eyes I saw a dark object leap from the cover of the thicket to the shelter of a single bush on the cleared ground. It looked to me in the brief glimpse I had like a gorilla. I measured the leap afterward with a tape line, and it was twenty-three feet. I did not start up but rubbed my eyes wide open to identify the strange creature. It had cowered until I could see nothing but a black spot, and it was two or three minutes before it moved again. Then it suddenly leaped into view, bounded for the children exactly as a monkey leaps, and before I could call out it had seized a little boy about two and a half years old and was retreating with him. It was on its hind legs, both arms around the child, and running with great swiftness. The body was naked and hairy, but I was convinced that it was that of a human being. I yelled out, and the creature whirled about, raised the child on high, and with a shrill scream of anger, dashed it down on the hard, baked earth with terrible force. Then it shook its fists at the villagers swarming out, and, dropping down on all fours, bounded away into the jungle. We found the child gasping its last. That fling had broken almost every bone in its body. It was not until the villagers were convinced that I had seen the creature and was assured of its identity that the head man acknowledged it to be a man-wolf, and that it had long been a menace to the locality. It was he said, his cousin, who had killed a brother fifteen years before. As the creature had now killed three children, against whom it seemed to have a spite, and as its presence menaced the safety of the village, he would give his consent for us to seek his capture. I helped him to reach this conclusion by a present valued at twenty dollars, and by agreeing not to give the matter away in any other village. The first thing to be done was to learn the habits of the creature. He was known to eat meat, roots, barks, and almost everything else that came in his way. He must sleep, but no one could say when, as he had been seen prowling around at all hours of the day and night. He was very strong and fierce, and it was doubted if one of the tiger cages would hold him. We decided to tempt his curiosity, and to this end, one of our cages was placed in the jungle, and the door so arranged as to shut the creature in if he but entered. But he took no notice of the curiosity, or if he did it was to fight shy of the suspected trap. Twice in three days he was seen on the borders of the village, evidently bent on further mischief, and the natives finally found a path which the man-wolf used in going and coming from a water hole. As soon as they came in with the news, we started out to set a different trap for him. The steel traps to catch wild animals have no teeth, and the jaws come together in a way to give one a leverage on the other. I have known of a full-grown tiger being caught by the foot and firmly held in a trap no larger than the boys set for mink and muskrat. We replaced the chain with a half-inch rope made of native grasses, and as soon as a suitable spot had been selected we excavated a hold, buried the trap out of sight, and then bent down a sapling and tied the end of the rope to it. This sapling was held down by a trigger which a sharp pull would release. When the trap had been set no one could detect any thing suspicious around the spot and we felt certain that the creature would get into trouble if he passed that way. When we could do no more, we retired to the village, about a mile away. It was about sundown when we arrived, and we were just in time to see a wonderful proceeding. A large and savage looking hyena came out of the jungle and sniffed and snuffed and growled at us from about twenty rods. We refrained from shooting, for fear the reports would frighten the man-wolf away, and while a hundred of us stood gazing at the beast another object suddenly appeared. It was the same creature I saw from the hammock. “It is the man-wolf!” moaned a score of natives in chorus, and at least a dozen of them slunk away into their huts. But the man-wolf had not come to disturb us. He had evidently been tracking the hyena, and he was there for revenge. He bounded over the ground with great leaps, and the hyena did not suspect his approach. The last bound was a tremendous curve in the air, and as the man-wolf came down it was full upon the hyena’s back. He uttered a terrible scream as he struck, and the hyena gave vent to something like a shriek. They rolled over and over on the ground, biting, clawing, growling and gurgling, but the fight did not last over sixty seconds. Then the man-wolf sprang up, shook himself and uttered a yell of triumph, and after threatening us for a couple of minutes re-entered the jungle. We went out to the body of the hyena, and its condition gave us a strong idea of the man-wolf’s fighting powers. One ear was torn off, both eyes plucked out, two legs broken, its tongue bitten nearly off and it had several horrible gashes in the belly. It was plain that the creature was a match for lion or tiger, and we began to feel very uneasy. By the advice of the head man we built several extra fires and kept a sharp lookout. “The fellow is evidently very angry?” explained the old man. “You are white men, and he is not pleased at your coming. Perhaps he has been told you are here to capture him.” “But who could have told him?” “He had a cousin who was turned into a vulture for striking his father, and another cousin who was turned into a serpent for cursing our faith. Either one may have carried the man-wolf the news.” We placed sentinels on the watch when ready to turn in, but everything passed off quietly until about midnight. Then a succession of shrieks and screams and roars brought every man, women and child out of sleep, with a bound. I had no other thought than that the man-wolf had seized one of the sentinels, but as I leap out of the hut one called to me: “Sahib, you have caught the beast in your trap!” It was a mile, as I have told you, from the village to the spot where we had set the trap, and yet the screams seemed closed at hand. When the news went around that there was no danger, the village soon quieted down, but there was no further sleep for any one. Whether caught or not, the creature seemed fastened to one locality for the remainder of the night, and of all proceedings I ever knew a wild beast to indulge in his were the worst. He had a voice as strong as a lion’s, and he was not quiet for two minutes at a time. He roared, screamed, shrieked, lamented and growled, and the wind brought us every sound. He still had a full head of steam on when daylight came, and after a hasty breakfast a party of twenty of us moved in his direction. He probably heard us coming, for his anger was freshly aroused, and pretty soon we could hear him tearing at the bushes. I am free to say that the first sight of the man-wolf, caught by the hind foot in the trap, and hanging head downward from the swaying sapling, took the courage of me sooner than as if I had met a tiger face to face on the path. He hung about three feet from the earth, and as far as he could reach in every direction he had pulled up the bushes by the roots. He was as supple as a monkey, and could double himself up and reach the trap, but, strong as he was, he could not spring the jaws open and release his foot. There was a foot of chain before he could get to the rope, and the way he bit on that chain made us hold our breaths. Had it been of soft iron I have no doubt he would have cut it in tow. He had been caught when we first heard him scream out and had been suspended for over four hours. You would have thought he would be exhausted with pain and struggling, but he was not. As soon as we came near him he made such tremendous efforts to get away, or to get at us, that all the natives fled in terror. We quickly understood that we could do nothing with the beast until he had lost his strengths and temper, and we retuned to the village and left him hanging. All that day he yelled out every two or three minutes, and all that night we heard from him at intervals. On the second morning he was still ugly, but late in the afternoon hunger and pain mastered him. We brought up a cage got three or four ropes around him, and finally made him a prisoner. His foot and leg were terribly swollen, and he made but little resistance. We now had opportunity to look him over. He was certainly a man-wolf – that is, a native child had been carried off when young and brought up with wild beast of twenty years or more. This creature had a human face and form, but the body was covered with coarse hair, the teeth were long, the hands out of shape, and he had learned to go as a four-footed animal. He was indeed a horrible looking sight, but the worst feature about him was his eyes. No true wild beast ever saw through a more ugly pair. There was a villainous squint to them and the balls seemed to be aflame. We were congratulating ourselves on his easy capture when the head man replied: “Wait a bit. Wait until his strength returns. You will never get him away from here.” We drew the cage to the village and gave the captive food and water. He readily accepted both, and his conduct was as humble as we could desire. He was biding his time, however. On the third day he minutely examined the construction of the cage and tested every bar. He did this when he thought he was unobserved. On the fifth day he began to snarl and growl and show his temper, and on the sixth day we started off with him, the cage being dragged by twelve natives. Everything went well up to noon, when we stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. As all were sitting down the man-wolf suddenly sprang out of a corner where he had been sulking, seized a bar in either hand, and with a tremendous effort wrenched them out. One he retained for a weapon as he leaped to the earth. It was so sudden that no one was prepared. He did not seek escape, but revenge, and before we could pick up our arms and open fire he had killed three of the natives and severely wounded two others. He was still laying about him screaming with rage when one of the white men gave him a charge of buckshot and ended his career. He had struck only single blows, and yet each one had been hard enough to cripple or kill. But for our guns he would have killed every man in the party. – N.Y. Sun


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This forum will sometimes contain copyrighted information, however, it is placed here under Title 17

Not withstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.