The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Prairie Dog
Story Of The Wild Boar
Story Of The Porcupine
Story Of The Hippopotamus
Story Of The Jackal
Story Of The Tapir
Story Of The Monkey
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Story Of The Monkey
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The proverb "mischievous as a monkey" reveals the estimation in which monkeys commonly are held. The more or less human-like form, the frequent tendency to assume an upright position, coupled with their hand-like feet are amply sufficient to distinguish the group to which these animals belong from all others.
The peculiar traits of the monkey, which have made this class of animals the most interesting to the children and a source of amusement ,to their elders, are an interesting study.
A neighbor of mine had a monkey of which he was very fond and the little pet used to love to sit on his master's shoulder. It showed; nevertheless, a great dislike to strangers, and was not on good terms with any other member of my friend's household. My neighbor had started from home one morning without taking the monkey with him, and the little creature having missed its friend, and concluded, as it seemed, that he would be sure to come to me, both being in the habit of paying me a daily visit together, came straight to my dwelling, taking a short cut over gardens, trees, and thickets, instead of going the roundabout way of the street. It bad never done this before, and we knew the route it had taken only from a neighbor having watched its movements. On arriving at my house, and not finding its master, it climbed to the top of my table, and sat with an air of quiet resignation waiting for him. He failed to come, and after a wait of several hours it returned home. Disappointed there it again came to me, and this time its master was there. The little creature was overjoyed and clung to him as a child would to its mother.
When at Malwa in Northern India, which is one of the lakes where I spent a day, I was warned that, in passing under a landslip which slopes down to the lake, I should be liable to have stones thrown at me by monkeys. Regarding this as being possibly a traveler's tale, I made a particular point of going to the spot in order to see what could have given rise to it. As I approached the base of the landslip on the north side of the lake, I saw a number of brown monkeys rush to the sides and across the top of the slip, and presently pieces of loosened stone and shale came tumbling down near where I stood. I fully satisfied myself that this was not merely accidental; for I distinctly saw one monkey industriously, with both forepaws, and with obvious malice, pushing the loose shingle off a shoulder of rock. I then tried the effect of throwing stones at them, and this made them quite angry, and the number of fragments which they then set rolling was speedily doubled. This, though it does not actually amount to throwing or projecting an object by monkeys as a means of offense, comes very near to the same thing, and makes me think that there may be truth in the stories of their throwing fruit at people from trees.
In confinement the monkey is generally docile, good-tempered and amenable to instruction. A specimen in a zoological garden was said to be a most importunate beggar; but instead of snatching the contributions of his visitors with violence or anger, like the generality of monkeys, he solicited them. by tumbling, dancing, and a hundred other amusing tricks. He was very fond of being caressed, and would examine the hands of his friends with great gentleness and gravity, trying to pick out the little hairs, and all the while expressing his satisfaction by smacking his lips, and uttering a low surprised grunt.
Monkeys as a rule travel in bands in the wild state. The herds vary in number; some cannot include much less than from two hundred and fifty to three hundred monkeys of all ages. The old males usually take the lead when the troop is moving; some of them also bringing up the rear; others placing themselves on high rocks or bushes, and keeping a sharp lookout after enemies. A troop collected on a rocky crag presents a most singular appearance. Whenever they assemble in the evening every jutting rock, every little stone more prominent than the rest is occupied by a patriarch of the herd, who sits with gravity and watchfulness befitting his grizzled hair, waiting patiently for the march to begin anew.- The females are mainly occupied in taking care of the young; the smaller monkeys amusing them-selves by gamboling about. Occasionally, if a young monkey becomes too noisy, or interferes with the repose of his seniors, he "catches it" in most unmistakable style, and is dismissed with many cuffs, a wiser if not a better monkey.
Sometimes battles take place among the monkeys in the wild state, when it is surprising to witness the rapidity with which they will follow an offender down a stupendous precipice, or from the top of a lofty tree; tumbling one after another they descend hundreds of feet in a moment or two. The object of the popular wrath sometimes escapes, but in this event he is never permitted to return, becoming an exile. He often attaches himself to another group or band, where after a short probation he is received on good behavior. Should, however, the hapless member of the tribe be caught he is punished with death. The various troops rarely indulge in pitched battles with other bands, preferring to turn back in their course when their paths cross.
The member of the simian tribe with his natty red coat and twinkling eye who is one-half the stock in trade of the organ grinder has been trained to do his part and does it faithfully. He is loyal to his master. An instance of this was shown when a highly prized monkey one day playfully climbed to the roof of his master's house. All efforts to induce him to come down were unavailing. Finally his master pointed a gun at him, but quite unsuccessfully. Jack slipped over to the rear of the building. Another gun was procured and one was placed on each side of the house, when the monkey, seeing the fix he was in, sprang on the chimney, and hid in one of the flues, holding on by his forepaws. A fire soon brought him out and he meekly surrendered, coming to his master in an abashed and crestfallen manner.
With the exception of a few small species, such as the marmosets and the lemurs, the simians are not very pleasing animals in aspect or habits; while the larger apes and baboons are positively disgusting. The air of grotesque
humanity that characterizes them is horribly suggestive of human idiocy. It is true that the naturalist learns to see wonder or beauty in all things of nature, and therefore looks with lively interest on the ape. But still, this creature is less pleasing in his sight than many others which may be not so highly developed; and in truth there are few who, if the choice lay between the two fates, would not prefer to suffer from the fangs and claws of the lion than from the teeth and hands of the ape.
Although these animals are capable of assuming a partially erect position, yet their habitual attitude is on all-fours. Even the most accomplished ape is but a bad walker when he discards the use of his two upper limbs, and trusts for support and progression to the hinder legs only. There are many dogs which can walk, after the manner of two-legged animals, with a firmer step and a more assured demeanor than the apes, although they do not so closely resemble the human figure.
On account of the structure of the limbs, the term "hand" is given to their extremities; but scarcely with perfect fitness. It must be borne in mind that the thumb is not always found on the fore extremities of these animals. In several kinds of monkeys the fore paws are destitute of effective thumbs, and the hand-like grasp is limited to the hinder feet. The so-called hands of the monkey tribes will not bear comparison with those of man. Although the thumb possesses great freedom of motion, and in many species can be opposed to the fingers in a manner resembling the hand of man, yet there is no intellectual power in the monkey hand; none of that characteristic contour which speaks of the glorious human soul so strongly that an artist can sketch a single hand, and in that one member exhibit the individuality of its owner.
That monkeys, among the other characteristics which show a closer connecting link with the human species than is at all agreeable, should possess that love of seeing how near they can get to danger without being hurt, which finds a place in almost every man's breast, is especially odd, but none the less true.
The Evers through the kingdom of Siam abound with crocodiles in an extraordinary manner. These are tantalized daily by the monkeys, who annoy them in various ways. One day I was a witness to the monkey's love for frolic and the penalty sometimes paid. A large number of the agile little animals had gathered in a tree under which a crocodile was sunning in some shallow water. One after another the monkeys would drop to the lover branches, but careful not to approach too near the open jaws. Approaching nearer and nearer the crocodile, and yelling at every effort the animal made to catch a stray leg or arm between his teeth.
The odd sport went on for a full hour, the monkeys growing more and more excited, and the crocodile never once losing his patience, probably well aware, from experience, that in the end he should be repaid for having so kindly lent himself to their amusement.
At last an unlucky monkey slid down the trunk of the tree, passing unceremoniously over the heads and hacks of his companions, evidently with the intention of taking the place of the one who occupied the post of danger near the water.
The whole crowd yelled and chattered louder than ever, and the crocodile's mouth opened wider, but he gave no other evidence of eagerness. The monkey had nearly reached the bottom of the line when he made a misstep, lost his hold, and fell into the river.
There was one cry of agony, that was fairly human in its intensity, and the unhappy wight was dragged under the water. The crocodile and his victim had disappeared.
The chain was immediately broken, the monkeys flew up the tree in terrible haste, their merriment changed to doleful cries, and there they sat wringing their hands and bewailing the fate of their companion.
In Darfour and Sennaar the natives make a fermented beer of which the monkeys are very fond. Aware of this, the natives go to the parts of the _ forests frequented by the monkeys, and set on the ground calabashes full of the enticing liquor. As soon as a monkey sees and tastes it, he utters loud cries of joy, attracting his comrades. Then an orgie begins, and in a short time the beasts show all degrees of intoxication. Then the negroes appear.
The few monkeys who come too late to get fuddled escape. The drinkers are too far gone to distrust their captors, but apparently take them for larger species of their own genus. The negroes lay hold of one or two, and these immediately begin to weep and cover them with maudlin kisses. When a negro takes one by the hand to lead him off, the nearest monkey will cling to the one who thus finds a support and endeavor to go off also. Another will grasp at him, and thus in turn till the negro leads a staggering line of ten or a dozen tipsy monkeys.