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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Captured by Apes » CHAPTER I. THE DEALER IN ANIMALS.
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Several years ago, or, to speak more accurately, in 1871, Philip Garland, a young man of not more than seventeen years, succeeded his father in the business of buying, selling and training wild animals, making a specialty of those belonging to the monkey kingdom.

Garland, senior, was well and favorably known throughout the country by proprietors of museums, circuses, and collectors generally, and his son found himself the fortunate possessor of an unblemished reputation and an extensive establishment, together with a large capital of ready money, but not a relative to whom he could turn for relaxation from the cares of business.

Philip and his father had led lonely lives, so far as intercourse with other members of the human family was concerned. As a matter of fact they were well acquainted with their regular customers; but these came only in the hours devoted to business, tarried no longer than was absolutely necessary, and probably cared not one whit how these merchants passed their leisure time.
Perhaps this comparative isolation was the cause of Philip’s devoting himself with such assiduity to his profession, if such it may be termed. From his childhood the senior Garland had instilled into his son’s mind the rudiments of natural history, and having the rare faculty of so presenting dry subjects as to make them interesting, he had so thoroughly enlisted the boy’s attention and sympathies that when Master Philip found himself at the head of the establishment he was one of the most enthusiastic students.

Unlike his father, he was a naturalist in the full sense of the word, and devoted himself more particularly to noting the peculiarities and habits of four-handed mammals, otherwise known as the monkey tribe.

In two months after the elder Garland died Philip’s collection was composed principally of apes, he having so reduced the stock by forced sales that nearly every other species of animal, as well as the entire lot of birds, had given way to the tribe in whose habits he was so deeply interested.

As a matter of course, any variety of the monkey-kind are more valuable when their talents for imitation have been developed by the aid of education, and the new head of the house of Garland & Co. made a point of instructing his live articles of merchandise in the most thorough manner.

During every hour of the day, when not engaged with customers, Philip taught the apes to throw somersaults, jump through hoops, dance, play the[7] tambourine, and a variety of similar accomplishments. He also had several so highly educated as to march at the word of command, present arms, fire a musket, fence, or salute in true military fashion.

Quite naturally this reduction of stock to a single and not very rare species of animal caused a corresponding falling off in the number of customers. But for this Philip cared little. His bank account was sufficiently large to admit of his conducting the business after his own peculiar fashion, regardless of whether the balance at the end of the year was in his favor or not; and as the sales were limited so did his stock increase, until, at the time when an old friend of his father’s, Captain Seaworth, master of the good ship Reynard, called in company with his first and second officers at what was now little more than a monkey emporium, to give the young man good advice, he was greatly amused at the proficiency to which these long-tailed animals had been brought.

Among the large collection were four which attracted the most attention; and, as may be supposed, these were the ones upon whom Philip had spent the greater portion of his time in teaching. Two were enormous baboons, strong as giants, and of corresponding ferocity. When their instruction was begun they would oftentimes seize the iron rods which were used in the way of discipline, bending them like straws; and more than once had their teacher battled for his life when these pupils escaped[8] from the stoutly-barred cage. Finally, however, both had been partially subdued through fear, not love, until, with many a grimace and angry gesture, they would obey in a surly manner the orders given.

That these brutes knew exactly what their teacher desired of them was shown even when they refused to do his bidding. Both were well aware when the hour for study had come, and from their movements one would have said they were discussing the question as to whether it was best to learn anything on this particular day or hold out against the master at the expense of a severe flogging.

Philip often said that there was no animal in his collection who understood the human voice better than these same ferocious brutes, and their disobedience was only proof of their vicious natures.

“Those fellows know enough to put me through the same course of instruction, provided they held the iron rod and had the opportunity,” Philip often said to his assistants; and at such remarks the larger of the baboons actually wrinkled his face into what was very like a smile, as if thinking of the glorious time he could have in turning the tables on his not very gentle teacher.

This interesting couple had not inaptly been christened Goliah and Magog.

The other notable members of the collection were quite the opposite, both in disposition and appearance. They were a male and female chimpanzee, young, and not absolutely ill-favored, if one should[9] compare them with the monkey type of beauty. Both were tractable, obeyed every command as readily as the best-behaved children, and regarded their master with an affection which seemed almost human.

Philip had named the male Ben Bolt and the female Sweet Alice, because the regard which each apparently entertained for the other was quite as fervent, in their monkey way, as is supposed to have been that of the lovers mentioned in the song.

These two appeared to be perfectly contented in the Garland establishment. They were not only docile, but seemingly delighted at being able to show their proficiency when Philip taught them new tricks, and the female in particular obeyed the slightest word as readily as any human being could have done. Yet these tractable pupils, who never needed the discipline of the iron rod, had more than their share of trouble in the fact that Goliah was most desperately smitten with Sweet Alice, and would at every opportunity display this fact in a very disagreeable manner.

In his own peculiar fashion it could plainly be seen, even by a casual observer, that this monkey-love was something terrible in its intensity. Whenever, as frequently happened, the two favorite animals were allowed the liberty of the museum, this huge baboon would give proof of the most violent rage toward Ben Bolt, and on more than one occasion had Philip’s iron rod been the only thing which saved the chimpanzee from Goliah’s hideous jealousy.[10] He would shake the bars of his cage in an excess of anger if Ben came near him, and make the most frantic efforts to seize his rival; but thus far the lovers had escaped any serious injury.

Captain Seaworth, actuated by a desire to assist the son of his old friend, decided to purchase, for his amusement during the long voyage he was about to undertake, one of the baboons, and to this end selected Goliah, much to the pleasure of Philip.

His officers, following the example of their commander, also made overtures for the purchase of Ben Bolt and Sweet Alice, together with four other less intelligent but well-mannered apes of the collection.

For some time Philip was undecided whether to part with the two chimpanzees, whom he looked upon more as pets than articles of merchandise; but yielding to persuasion and promises that they should not only be cared for tenderly, but kept far from the ill-favored Goliah, he finally consented.

It seemed as if the chimpanzees understood that they were about to be separated from their kind master, and in every way by which it is possible for brutes to show grief they displayed it, until the animal dealer was forced to leave his establishment during the transfer.

Of Captain Seaworth’s intended voyage Philip already knew, as did that portion of the public who make a practice of reading all the daily newspapers.

Under the auspices of a corporation made up of[11] coffee merchants in New York and its vicinity, the Reynard was bound for one of the many islands of the Malay Archipelago, there to found a colony for the purpose of raising coffee on a gigantic scale. The captain’s orders were to consult with the agents of the corporation at Batavia, who would make a selection of some land near Borneo which could be leased or purchased, there landing the laborers, and directing their movements until the enterprise should be well begun. After that, Captain Seaworth would proceed in accordance with such instructions as might be received from home.

Thus it was a long voyage that these dumb members of Philip’s establishment were to take, and it is little wonder that he feared for the safety of Ben Bolt and Sweet Alice while on shipboard with the ferocious and mighty Goliah.

If the young merchant had had the slightest idea of the wicked cunning in the breast of the huge baboon, it is safe to say he would never have consented to sell him to a friend such as Captain Seaworth; and, also, could he have known how much suffering this same animal would cause him in the future, Goliah’s career might have been ended very suddenly by a pistol-ball. Then the reasons for the writing of this story could hardly have existed.

“Treat the animals well, but let them know you are the master,” Philip said to the captain on the day the latter made his final visit to the establishment. “They have considerably more intelligence than is generally credited to them, and I oftentimes[12] imagine they understand very much of ones conversation.”

Philip really believed that this species of animal comprehended many words; and it was destined that his experience in the future, although covering but a short space of time, should eclipse all he had thus far learned from books or by observation.


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