In The Brooklyn Standard Union’s column about reader’s interesting experiences, Gustave tells how a BIG cat gave him the shock of his life when he visited a tramp steamer docked in Erie Basin. (A tramp steamer is ship without a fixed schedule or published port of call; a ship which followed the opportunities.)
Text of the article:
Gustave in the Lion’s Den
"It is a well known fact that skippers of tramp steamers have pets of different sorts," writes Gustave W. "A tramp steamer was recently In a dry dock at Erie Basin and it had for a mascot a young lion. This lion was about five months' old and any of the crew could make it do all sorts of tricks without it showing temper. The captain would whistle, and no matter where the lion was he would come bounding and wagging his tall; in fact, to any of the crew he was just like a dog. But to strangers he showed the utmost contempt, and unless you were protected by one of the crew he would treat you roughly if you came on deck. While the vessel was in dry dock the lion was chained up with a chain about ten feet long One of my men, knowing that the lion was on board (meanwhile I knew nothing), told me that I was, wanted on dock, starboard amidships (where the lion was chained). Unconscious of what was awaiting me, I went up the ladder and climbed on board and found myself in the presence of Mr. Lion my hair stood on end when I confronted him, and with one bound he was on top of me, roaring and otherwise mauling me, but not hurting me. I thought sure my last moment had come and resigned myself to my fate when one of the crew, who was watching and laughing, spoke a word to the lion and he bounded aw a y from me. Later it was explained that the lion only wanted to play with me. I don't care for that kind of playing, however, as it took me nearly an hour to get over the shock."