Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/619

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QUEER PHASES OF ANIMAL LIFE.

pet with his brass collar and sleek pouch is merely scrutinized with silent envy. The half-grown bhunder-monkeys are so pretty that they are often domesticated, but their relatives dislike to part with them—from motives that have nothing to do with "philoprogenitiveness."

The holy children are their mediators, their apple and bread winners. The entreaties of the little beggars are not easy to resist: they will climb you after the manner of pet squirrels, embrace you with one arm and beg with the other, accompanying their gestures with a deprecatory mumble that becomes strangely expressive, as if they were pleading extenuating circumstances, if you offer to strike them. Even the idol-hating Mussulman is thus often beguiled into a liberality which his conscience may be far from approving. If the little spongers have struck a bonanza, they swallow in situ all they can find room for, well knowing that upon their return the contents of their cheek-pouches will be claimed by their relatives, for even a mother monkey has no hesitation in plundering her own child in that way. To avoid coercive measures, the poor kids surrender their savings voluntarily and with great dispatch at the approach of the ruthless parent. Like our artist-mendicants who keep a beggar-boy ad captandum, old baboons sometimes kidnap a baby of another tribe, keep a strict watch on its movements, but urge it with slaps and grunts to work the passers-by. Crippled baboons, too, are a most welcome acquisition to any clique. These twice-worthy objects of charity have their regular headquarters, where they can be found at any time of the day surrounded by eupeptic relatives who hope to participate in the largess of the pious. The poorest huckster will stop his cart in a gate-way to hand his tribute to a decrepit bhunder-monkey who supplicates him with outstretched hands. No true believer must stint his gifts upon such occasions; and so well does the hairy mendicant know the stringency of that duty that he flies out into a paroxysm of virtuous wrath if any passer-by should dare to disregard his appeal. The relatives promptly yield their aid, and fruit-carts are in danger of being monkey-mobbed if the driver hesitates to propitiate their resentment by a liberal contribution.

 

In a sparsely settled but tolerably fertile country animal refugees soon accustom themselves to the vicissitudes of their wild life. The ten months' drought of 1877, which almost exterminated the domestic cattle of Southern Brazil, was braved by the pampa cows, whom experience had taught to derive their water-supply from bulbous roots, cactus-leaves, and excavations in the moist river-sand. Solid food is only a secondary requirement; with a good supply of drinking-water many animals would beat Dr. Tanner's time. But how the Syrian Khamr dogs manage to make out a living only the gods of the desert know. They rough it in regions where no human hunter would discover a trace of game, and where water is as scarce