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CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 129, 22 July 1880
THE MAN AND THE MONKEY.
I was on duty, and didn’t want to quarrel. “ Come,” said I, laughing, and eying his portly person, “ we won’t dispute o which baboons are biggest, or which donkeys. I grant it. There is one species of apes on the Rock which is considerably larger than the common sort, and which, therefore, may perhaps bo properly called baboons. Well, in passnag along on that perilous path, one of these baboons met you. It was an interesting meeting to both parties, and a singular adventure. Now please to tell me all particulars.” The Captain, somewhat toned down by the idea of telling, began to narate. For some distance he made his way along the path with no obstruction, save only the want of additional space. One, arm brushed against a perpendicular "wall of lofty rocks, the other hung free over the abyss. He owned he didn’t like it; but his coolness and determination, not to mention the impossibility of turning back, carried him forward. Just as he had got round a projecting ridge, which, once passed, return was hopeless, what do you think he saw in the path bef ore him ? An enormous baboon ! yes, sir, not an ape, a baboon. What was to be done? He could not go back, and the baboon would not. Passing was impossible. There they stood for some seconds, each looking daggers at the other. It was a question of life and death ! Presently the baboon began to grin—grinned mechanically—raised himself erect on his hind legs and grinned again, advanced a few steps, and gave another grin ! The Captain could easily have pitched the beast over the ledge, but in so doing, might he not have lost his balance, and gone over himself ? At this moment a bright idea occurred to the Captain’s mind, he made a slight movement downwards with his hand, hoping that the beast would do as goats do under similar circumstances—i. e., lie down upon the path, in order that he, the Captain, might walk over him. The baboon took no notice. What remained ? Only that as the baboon would not, the Captain must. Accordingly, (this part of the adventure the Captain narrated with a considerable amount of self-vindication), the Captain laid hinx- • self along at full length, and the baboon walked over him. So they parted ; each went his own way ; and the Captain embraced the earliest opportunity of transferring himself from the face of the precipice to the summit, where I had the honor of landing him in the blowzed and colliquescent condition already described, getting no thanks for my trouble. “ Very glad to see you safe back again,” said I. ‘ 1 Had you missed your footing, the result must —”
Here our conversation was interrupted by a distant bugle. We both knew the note—it sounded for some one escaping to the enemy’s lines. Then followed a cannon-shot from the Queen’s battery, then a dropping fire of musketry. In order to see what was in the wind, we made the best of our way back to the Rock Guard, whence there was a clear view, the whole of the “Neutral Ground,” or space between the enemies line and our own, lying spread almost beneath our feet. At first nothing was visible, save the occasional striking of our shot, as they knocked up the sand. Presently, however, we distinguished a little speck, which was evidently making the best of its w r ay to the hostile lines. Our glasses were promptly in requisition. The party escaping was at once brought near to the Captain’s eye as well as to mine. The fugitive ran well. No wonder ; he ran for his life. Presently, heedless of the fire, he paused, coolly faced round, laid one hand on his heart, and with the other took off his hat and made a profound semi-circle obeisance to the garrison. He then skipped down into tlxe enemy’s trenches, and.was lost to our view.
But not till he had been recognized both by the Captain and myself. “ That little wretch of a Frenchman ! ” exclaimed the Captain. The ludicrous reality broke at once upon ray mind. “ The baboon ! ” I replied. Captain Schnaub turned on me like a tiger. I don’t want to hurt the Captain’s feelings, but, tbe whole thing was so unutterably comical, laughter was irrepressible. So I laughed heartily, there was no helping it. The Captain’s rage knew no bounds. It was too clear. “The little wretch,” had again been too much for him, had disguised himself, had taken the path at the back of the Rock, had there met the captaiix, and had got off, undetected and unsuspected. The Captain, to hide his wrath and mortification, was again disposed to quarrel. Perceiving, however, that I continued far less inclined to wrangle than to laugh, he gradually toned down and turned sulky. Savage, that the “ little wretch ” had got off, what chiefly stung him was one particular incident. ' After some minutes gloomy silence it at length came out. ‘‘ To think that I was his bridge, and that he actually walked over me from end to end ! ”
“ Never mind, Captain,” said I. “ Considering your differexxt amplitudes, he knew very well it would be a much more serious business if you walked over him, so of two evils he chose the less, and now let me advise you to keep your own counsel. Nobody in tlxe garrison knows of this little affair at the back of the Rock but our two selves, and I shall not mention it. ”
Somewhat mollified, the Captain awhile remained silent and pensive. At length growing confidential, and speaking low, “ Do you know,” said he, “ just as he had got his beastly foot on the small of my back, he gave utterance to a strange sort of guttural cry which I did think rather odd fes coming from a baboon; a kind of mixture between a chuckle and the crowing of a cock !”
So, then, the little Frenchman had felt such intense exultation at the rich idea of walking over the Captaiix, that between crowing and chuckling, he had nearly betrayed himself, and stood detected, a man and xxo monkey. However, though the joke would have exhilarated the whole gai'rison, I kept my promise, and did not tell; so the Captain was not made a laughing-stock. There
was a strict examination of the quarters which had beeix occupied by M. De Montmaur, but the search brought nothing to light which indicated preparations for leaving. He had, doubtless, been aided in his escape by some party or parties within the garrison. It transpired that he had been wholly absent from his apartment during the four-and-twenty hours which immediately preceded his flight; and for not reporting this the proprietor, a civilian, had to pay a small pecuniary fine—a far lighter punishment than he deserved.
Whether the baboon carried any important information respecting the state of affairs within the fortress to our enemies without, we never learned. If he did, it mattered little.. A . few days after came the grand attack. We burned their floating batteries, and shortly after the siege was raised.
Passing along the seawall the second day after the attack, I noticed a brother officer with his elbows on the parapet, blowing a cloud. I was soon by his side, doing as he did. Our faces were toward the water. Wo saw the whole surface of the bay covered with fragments of wreck, the ddbris of battered galleons. And let me remark, if
sunk so steady and over whelming was the fire of our artillery. True, wo fired red-hot bails, but I quite agreed with the remark of an old artillery officer, ‘ ‘ Sir, wo have beaten them with cold shot.”
Among the wreck that had floated in, my companion and 1 noticed several human bodies popping up and down, now visible, now disappearing, as they were rolled and tossed by the waves—the corpses of our enemies who had perished in the attack. Up popped a very dark face.
“ Ah,” said my companion, “ that’s an Andaluz. How curious ! These fellows always call themselves Blancos, they are only a shade lighter than the Moors over there on the other side. ”
“Look there,” said I; “alas, a poor priest! Don’t you see his shaven crown ?” “ See this little one,” said he, “ close in by the shore.” “ Drummer-boy,” said I. “ More like a powder-monkey,” said he.
“ Military,” said I.
“ Naval,” said he. Each of us bogged leave to assure the the other that he was as blind as a bat. The difference, of course, lead to a wager; and we walked down together to the shore in order to ascertain who had won.
The sufferer floated prone, with his head underneath water. A soldier tux-ned him over for us with the butt of his musket. No powder monkey, no drummerboy ! It was my poor little friend, M. De Montmaur ! On one side of his head and face was a tremendous contusion, enough to have killed a much bigger man. At least then he had escaped the horrors of suffocation or slow combustion, the lot of so many Spaniards on the awful night of the attack. Ah, the yells of a thousand autos-da-fe seemed all tc be concentrated and avenged in the fearful screams that came in to us from the burning ships ! I at once took charge of the corpse, and then and there determined to give my little lamented friend a soldier’s funeral according to his rank. But he had cut and run. Could he receive military honors ? Yes. He had never given his parole ; and he had only availed himself of every prisoner’s rights by all the laws of war to escape if he can. The funeral was very generally attended by the officers of the garrison, among whom M. De Mountmaur had been laughed at and rather liked. It was not altogether to the liking of Capt. Schnaub; but that gallant officer also yielding to my persuasive powers, was present with the rest. — Blackwood’s Magazine. CONCLUDED.
CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 129, 22 July 1880
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