Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/713

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693
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

The highlands, however, are still pretty well wooded, and there is no lack of game, though the extraordinary shyness of the birds shows that they must suffer much persecution. Of the four-footed animals, too, the smaller ones are more timid and the large ones much fiercer than in our own country; at our approach deer and rabbits fled with incredible swiftness, and, when we went into camp, a troop of baboons up in the rocks kept up a continuous sort of coughing bark, like enraged watch-dogs. The Karman told me that the Monakees kill them without mercy, and I must own that they are certainly very provoking brutes. Yet they are children of our elder mother[1] and have preserved the knowledge that men have lost by their sins. "They know the way, and teach us without speech," as the poet says; and for days have I often watched them without sating my pleasure. Their inquisitiveness tempted them to approach our camp from behind, and, if we pretended to be otherwise engaged, they came nearer and nearer and diverted me much as I watched them from behind my shawl-tent; but, if my rogue of a guide rose suddenly to his feet, they fled with shrieks that made our ears ache. At last I persuaded the Karman to keep quiet, and just before sunset another troop came down from the cliffs on our right, and tried to steal upon us by crawling along under cover of the bushes and rocks. They walked on all-fours, but now and then one of the old ones would raise himself on his hind-legs to reconnoiter, while the youngsters raced around like frisky puppies. I verily believe that they would have entered our tent if we had continued to keep still; but, seeing that one of the youngsters had approached within a dozen yards of the camp, I made a sudden rush, just as he was in the act of climbing a tree-stump. Before he had reached the cliffs I overtook him, and finding escape impossible he threw himself on his back; and, instead of fighting me when I tried to lay hold of him, he leaped upon my arm, and, hugging it with all his might, began to chatter, very much like a prisoner pleading for mercy. But, when I grabbed him by the neck, his chattering turned into piercing shrieks, that continued even after I had wrapped him up in my shawl. His relatives had rushed up the cliffs like a flock of frightened goats; at the sound of the screams, however, they suddenly stopped, and some of the old males began to move upon our camp with hoarse yells that often resembled the challenge of a human voice.

They had advanced within half a stone's-throw, when the Karman whispered to me that in Kapibad[2] I could buy young monkeys by the dozen, and that we had better let this one go. As the noise was grow-

    but Professor Widerleger is probably right that it refers merely to the ridicule which the metropolitan Turks are apt to visit upon the theological speculations of the Arabs.

  1. "Beni abd'il Kabira," hijos de la prima madre; a term derived from the writings of the Sufist mystics.
  2. The chief town of Monakistan.