Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/614

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should singe his eyelids. He permits you to lift his claw, but drops it as soon as you withdraw your hand. If you prod him, he breaks forth in a moan that seems to express a lament over the painfulness of earthly affairs in general rather than resentment of your particular act. By-and-by his love of caloric may lure him back to the sunny side of the tree, but no incentives a tergo will accelerate his movements. His claws are a quarter of a foot long and rigidly tenacious, and, once unhooked, he forthwith transfers his attachment to your own person. After spreading his talons fan-shape, he clasps your arm with an intimacy that seems intended to reassure you of his peaceful intentions, but will gradually draw himself well up, as if unwilling to interfere with your locomotive facilities.

But, as Stanislaus Augustus said from sad experience, "Innocence is no excuse before the tribunal of war," and, in the tropics at least, a state of nature is a state of incessant warfare. In spite, therefore, of all his precautions and his monopoly of an almost unlimited food-supply, the sloth is found nowhere in great numbers; his enemies are too many for a creature that can neither fight nor fly. The harpy-eagle

PSM V22 D614 A new departure antics of wild monkeys.jpg
Fig. 4.—A New Departure.

skims the tree-tops of the tierra caliente, or falls upon him like a flash from the clouds; the lynx lurks in the twilight of the shade-trees; the sneaking ocelot explores the inmost penetralia of the liana-maze; if he meets him, he meets his death. Carnivora have to combine caution with sudden swiftness to catch a monkey in daytime, but sloth-hunting is a search rather than a chase; small palm-cats or slug-