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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/603

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579
A STUDY FROM LIFE.

do, he was struck with panic, gave one mighty bound to the mantel, the bracket of a lamp, the edge of an open door, or the floor, where he stood a few seconds motionless as he alighted. A panic, indeed, struck through him instantly, with curious effect. Whether he were lying quietly on one's knee, standing, sitting, or in whatever position, on being alarmed by an attempt to capture him, or by an unexpected sound, he instantly disappeared—sideways, backward, or forward mattered not—without in any way making ready, or getting upon his legs. It was as if his body were a spring, or as if he were flung by some force outside of himself—he simply went. It is impossible to give an idea of this most remarkable movement; I never saw anything like it. A curious fashion he had also of leaping against the bare side wall of the room, which he struck flatly with all fours, and then bounded off in another direction. I have seen the same thing done by a squirrel, and also—strange as it seems—by a bird.

The extreme nervousness of the little lemur seemed to be caused by too much company. When alone with one person, especially if that one were my daughter or myself—his prime favorites—he was as quiet as the family cat. He sat or lay in the lap, and allowed himself to be brushed; indeed, he enjoyed brushing, and thrust out arms and legs to be operated upon. He sat up with his tail laid over his shoulders in a comical way, and, if he wanted to turn his head, he "ducked" it under the tail and brought it up the other side rather than change its comfortable position. This member was really an important charge to the little beast; he spent hours in dressing it, and by it he expressed all his emotions. When in quiet mood it hung straight down, as stiffly as if made of wood; on mischief bent, it assumed a wicked-looking sidewise turn, though still hanging; during his pranks and in excitement it stood up like a flag-staff, safely out of harm's way; if his "angry passions rose," it was swished, after the manner of a cat; and when he jumped, it delivered a severe blow, like a smart rap with a stick.

Never was a living creature more alert than this small brute. So acute was his hearing that it was absolutely impossible to surprise him. No matter how quietly and apparently off his guard he sat on a chair, one could not jerk or tip that piece of furniture so quickly as to take him unawares; at the first sign of movement he appeared on the other side of the room, one could hardly tell how. I wanted much to see him when he did not see me, and to that end several times stole into the room from the front. The back of the cage was toward that side, and he could not possibly see me. I took off my shoes, and moved—to my senses—without the slightest sound over the carpet; but when I reached the point where I could see the open front of his cage, there he was, waiting,