Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/607

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
583
A STUDY FROM LIFE.

with a big leap into the middle of it, when the rustle instantly scared him off in a second hound as tremendous as the first. He soon returned, however, and began again. He turned somersaults on it, rolled over on it, took hold of one corner and rolled himself up in it. But during all these performances, every fresh rustle of the paper put him in a panic, and he leaped spasmodically away—a wild frolic impossible to describe, with attitudes so grotesque, movements so unexpected, and terror and joy so closely united, that it was the funniest exhibition one can imagine. The next evening I arranged a newspaper tentwise on the floor. The lemur looked at it, contemplated the tempting passage-way under it, then dashed frantically through and flew to the highest retreat in the room, as if he had taken his life in his hands. He returned—for it was impossible to keep away—and resumed the gambols, the hand-springs, the various fantastic exercises, and between each two antics flung himself about the room as if he had gone mad, ending every romp by sitting a few seconds motionless, with a grave and solemn air, as if it were out of the question that he could be guilty of anything frivolous.

Unlike most beasts, this little fellow had a great liking for strangers, and frequently took violent fancies, in which case it was quite impossible to keep him away from the object of his affections. Some people liked it, but others did not; and when one young lady was actually afraid of him, he appreciated her attitude, and not only resented it by angry barking grunts, but contrived again and again to surprise her, by stealing up behind her chair and suddenly pouncing upon her. Of course, she shrieked, and he squealed and grunted and ran out his tongue at her. With his friends he was troublesomely affectionate, insisting on being held, on lap, arm, or shoulder, and following them from room to room, in a long, droll gallop on the floor, or by jumping from chair to table, and sometimes to their backs as they passed.

Almost every sound the creature uttered reminded one of a pig. Going about the room contentedly, he constantly made a low sound represented by "oof!" or "woof!" with the tone and accent of the animal mentioned; when anxious to get out of his cage, the grunt was double, like the drawing in and expulsion of the breath in the same tone, varied—as has been said—by a little explosive sound. His bark even was of a piggish quality. When angry or hurt, he delivered a squeal and grunt together impossible to characterize; and if rubbed and caressed, he breathed out a loud, rough purr. His cry of loneliness was truly piteous; I heard it occasionally through the register. It was a sobbing, dismal sound, sometimes half a howl, sometimes with a retching sound. In uttering this he opened a small round hole of a quarter-inch diameter in the front of his very flexible lips. If this cry is a