Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/606

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gles with, it, he was never discouraged, and always coaxed for another.

No beast that I ever saw was more fond of play than the little Malagasy, not even a lively kitten. From the moment his door was opened till he was shut in for the night he often gave his mind to a constant succession of pranks. He scraped the beads off our dress-trimmings with his comb-like teeth, and he slapped or pulled books or work out of our hands, and especially liked to frolic in one's lap, lying on his back kicking with all fours, pretending to bite, and even turning somersaults or indulging in the most peculiar little leaps. In the latter he flung out his arms, dropped his head on one side in a bewitching way, turned half around in the air, and came down in the spot he started from, the whole performance so sudden, apparently so involuntary, and his face so grave all the time, it seemed as if a spring had gone off inside, with which his will had nothing to do.

A favorite plaything with the lemur was a window-shade. He began by jumping up to the fringe, seizing it and swinging back and forth. One day he learned by accident that he could "set it off," and then his extreme pleasure was to snatch at it with so much force as to start the spring, when he instantly let go and made one bound to the other side of the room, or to the mantel, where he sat, looking the picture of innocence, while the released shade sprang to the top and went over and over the rod. We could never prevent his carrying out this little programme, and we drew down one shade only to have him slyly set off another the next instant.

Next to the shade, his chosen play-ground was a small brass rod holding a bracket-lamp. It was not more than half an inch wide, and so sharp-edged that it seemed impossible that an animal of his size and weight could stay on it one minute, especially as it was not more than eight or ten inches long, and held a burning lamp at the end. The lamp was no objection to the always chilly little beast; he enjoyed the heat of it, and not only did he sit there with perfect ease, and dress his fur or eat his bread, but he played what seemed impossible pranks on it. He turned somersaults over it; he hung by one hand and swung; he jumped and seized it with hand or foot; whisked over it, and came up the other side. He never made a slip nor touched the lamp, and his long, stiff tail served as a balancing-pole.

Perhaps the greatest fun in our little captive's residence in a parlor was with a newspaper. The thing that inspired his first interest in the article was being told to let it alone, when he longed to tear it up. That ungratified desire made us constant trouble, till at last I resolved to give him his wish. I took an old paper and put it on the floor for him. His first pass was to come