Chapter 32 Summary
It is time for the family to return to Tentholm. On their way they stop at their various abodes to organize the houses, tend the animals they are leaving behind, and look over their plants and trees. Everything seems to be thriving, and the family is pleased.
Finally they are back in the salt cave. Once they are rested and their loads put in place, the father focuses on training the ostrich. This does not prove easy as the ostrich is extremely belligerent. The father remembers a trick he used to help Jack tame the falcon. He fills his pipe with tobacco and works up a good smoke, which he blows in the ostrich's face. To his dismay, it puts the large bird into a deep sleep. When the bird awakens, he will not eat.
Elizabeth decides the ostrich needs a female hand. She mixes some cornmeal with butter and pats this into ball shapes. The ostrich cannot resist the temptation. After he consumes five cornmeal balls, the family declares victory. The bird will be well fed. After this, the ostrich is easier to handle, and the father sets out to train it. Bribing the ostrich with food is a good way to get him to do what they want.
The ostrich is first taught to trot and gallop. They then teach it vocal commands. Eventually the bird eats from their hands and proves to be a very docile pet. However, they still have challenges. The more difficult technique of riding will require some kind of saddle and bridle, an interesting puzzle as the bird's shape is so different from their other animals.
For a bit, the father constructs a leather hood long enough to reach from the ostrich's beak down its neck. Remembering how a piece of material tied over the ostrich's eyes had calmed the bird, the father makes small blinders and places them over the eye-holes of the leather hood. He connects the blinders to the reins so the flaps can be raised or closed. With both blinders open, the bird is trained to gallop straight ahead. If the left blinder is closed, the bird turns right, and if the right blinder is closed, the ostrich goes left. If both blinders are closed, the ostrich comes to a complete stop. When the training is done, the father hands the ostrich over to Jack, the nimblest rider.