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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
My Monkey Jacko
By Francis Trevelyan Buckland (1826–1880)
 
From ‘Curiosities of Natural History’

AFTER some considerable amount of bargaining (in which amusing, sometimes animated, not to say exciting exhibition of talent, Englishmen generally get worsted by the Frenchmen, as was the case in the present instance), Jacko became transferred, chain, tail and all, to his new English master. Having arrived at the hotel, it became a question as to what was to become of Jacko while his master was absent from home. A little closet, opening into the wall of the bedroom, offered itself as a temporary prison. Jacko was tied up securely—alas! how vain are the thoughts of man!—to one of the row of pegs that were fastened against the wall. As the door closed on him his wicked eyes seemed to say, “I’ll do some mischief now;” and sure enough he did, for when I came back to release him, like Æneas,
  “Obstupui, steteruntque comæ et vox fancibus hæsit.” 1
The walls, that but half an hour previously were covered with a finely ornamented paper, now stood out in the bold nakedness of lath and plaster; the relics on the floor showed that the little wretch’s fingers had by no means been idle. The pegs were all loosened, the individual peg to which his chain had been fastened, torn completely from its socket, that the destroyer’s movements might not be impeded, and an unfortunate garment that happened to be hung up in the closet was torn to a thousand shreds. If ever Jack Sheppard had a successor, it was this monkey. If he had tied the torn bits of petticoat together and tried to make his escape from the window, I don’t think I should have been much surprised….
  1
  It was, after Jacko’s misdeeds, quite evident that he must no longer be allowed full liberty; and a lawyer’s blue bag, such as may be frequently seen in the dreaded neighborhood of the Court of Chancery,—filled, however, more frequently with papers and parchment than with monkeys,—was provided for him; and this receptacle, with some hay placed at the bottom for a bed, became his new abode. It was a movable home, and therein lay the advantage; for when the strings of it were tied there was no mode of escape. He could not get his hands through the aperture at the end to unfasten them, the bag was too strong for him to bite his way through, and his ineffectual efforts to get out only had the effect of making the bag roll along the floor, and occasionally make a jump up into the air; forming altogether an exhibition which if advertised in the present day of wonders as “le bag vivant,” would attract crowds of delighted and admiring citizens.  2
  In the bag aforesaid he traveled as far as Southampton on his road to town. While taking the ticket at the railway station, Jacko, who must needs see everything that was going on, suddenly poked his head out of the bag and gave a malicious grin at the ticket-giver. This much frightened the poor man, but with great presence of mind,—quite astonishing under the circumstances,—he retaliated the insult: “Sir, that’s a dog; you must pay for it accordingly.” In vain was the monkey made to come out of the bag and exhibit his whole person; in vain were arguments in full accordance with the views of Cuvier and Owen urged eagerly, vehemently, and without hesitation (for the train was on the point of starting), to prove that the animal in question was not a dog, but a monkey. A dog it was in the peculiar views of the official, and three-and-sixpence was paid. Thinking to carry the joke further (there were just a few minutes to spare), I took out from my pocket a live tortoise I happened to have with me, and showing it, said, “What must I pay for this, as you charge for all animals?” The employé adjusted his specs, withdrew from the desk to consult with his superior; then returning, gave the verdict with a grave but determined manner, “No charge for them, sir: them be insects.”  3
 
Note 1.
  “Aghast, astonished, and struck dumb with fear,
I stood; like bristles rose my stiffened hair.”
DRYDEN.    [back]
 
 
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