Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/610

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During a temporary absence of their mother he once succeeded in deceiving the children by these symptoms of distress; they loosened his chain-strap an inch or two, but happily took the precaution to shut the house-door and the cellar-gate. But they had forgotten the poultry house; and when the lady returned in the evening her sixteen hens had been converted into Platonic homunculi—"bipeds without feathers and without the power of volitation." On another occasion he came near setting the house on fire by drenching the cat with the contents of a large kitchen-lamp. Still, after trying sundry other four-handers, the lady declined to part with her monasso, though she lamented his utter want of principle, like the Devin du Village:

"Hélas! que les plus coupables
Toujours sont les plus aimables!"

The anthropoid apes are a somewhat taciturn race, but a chimpanzee's murmur of affection is very expressive, and quite different from his grunt of discontent. A sick orang-outang sheds tears, moans piteously, or cries like a pettish child; but such symptoms are rather deceptive, for the orang, as well as the chimpanzee, is a great mimic, not of men only, but of passions and pathological conditions. Two years ago I took temporary charge of a young chimpanzee who was awaiting shipment to the Pacific coast. His former landlord seemed to have indulged him in a penchant for rummaging boxes and coffers, for whenever I attempted to circumscribe the limits of that pastime my boarder tried to bring down the house, metaphorically and literally, by throwing himself upon the floor and tugging violently at the curtains and bell-ropes. If that failed to soften my heart, Pansy became sick. With groans and sobs he would lie down in a corner, preparing to shed the mortal coil, and adjusting the pathos of the closing scene to the degree of my obstinacy. One day he had set his heart upon exploring the letter department of my chest of drawers, and, after driving him off several times, I locked the door and pocketed the key. Pansy did not suspect the full meaning of my act till he had pulled at the knobs and squinted through the key-hole, but, when he realized the truth, life ceased to be worth living: he collapsed at once, and had hardly strength enough left to drag himself to the stove. There he lay, bemoaning his untimely fate, and stretching his legs as if the rigor mortis had already overcome his lower extremities. Ten minutes later his supper was brought in, and I directed the boy to leave the basket behind the stove, in full sight of my guest. But Pansy's eyes assumed a far-off expression; earth had lost its charm; the inhumanity of man to man had made him sick of this vale of tears. Meaning to try him, I accompanied the boy to the staircase, and the victim of my cruelty gave me a parting look of intense reproach as I left the room. But, stealing back on tiptoe, we managed to come upon him unawares, and Pansy looked rather sheepish when we caught him in the act of enjoying an excellent meal.