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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/605

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A STUDY FROM LIFE.

ily, always answered when spoken to, and came at a call like a dog, a thing very rare among animals of his sort. He also knew his own box, his chosen seats, his place before the fire, and insisted that they should not be used by others. In pictures he recognized a bird, or, at least, he tried to snatch it out of the paper, and the same with figures that looked like insects. He disapproved of change, complained when I closed the shutters, and looked askance at me when I put on a different dress. He knew with perfect certainty who would let him out of the cage and who would not; one of the gentlemen of the house might sit in the parlor all day, and, except for keeping an eye on him, the little beast made no sign; but let either of his mistresses enter, and he was excited at once, weaving, grunting, and demanding that the door be opened. He understood at once, too, when forbidden to do anything.

On the occasion of a several days' visit of a child, he was at first very jealous; did not like her occupying a lap he had considered his own, and opposed with a squealing grunt her sitting on his special stool before the fire. But she was a gentle child, and a little later he became very fond of her, let her pat him, sit beside him on his seat, and at last insisted upon lying on some article of her dress if any were in the room.

What the small African set his mind on he always secured in the end, for his persistence was simply marvelous. He was as fond of apples as any school-boy, and the head of the family liked to tantalize him by coming in with one hidden in his pocket. The sharp little nose sniffed it at once, and the eager little fellow sprang upon the apple-bearer, tried to dive into his pocket head first, then to dig into it from below, and, despairing of this, went to work to tear away the garments that covered it. No doubt he would have succeeded, but before he went so far the owner gave in, and delivered the fruit to the impatient creature. He snatched it at once, and fairly "gobbled" at it, biting off pieces with his back teeth, throwing his head up to chew them, and carefully separating and dropping the skin. He never at any time made a full meal, as do many beasts. His desire seemed to be merely to stop the cravings of hunger; the moment these were satisfied he opened his hand, and whatever food was in it dropped, he being apparently as unconscious as if he had nothing to do with it. He ate bread, sweet potato, and banana, and drank milk and water; but his delight was—with the girls—in candy, and that he never dropped. If there was a bit in sight, and he not sharing it, he was simply wild. A piece being offered, he snatched it, chewed it down, and instantly begged for more. The favorite trick of a mischievous youth was to give him a licorice-drop, which became soft and tenacious in the mouth, held his jaws together, and in every way was troublesome; but, in spite of his strug-