We have nearly come to the end of Colonel Birdwhistle’s first story from the book. Click here to start at the beginning: Part 1 .
And now, I submit to you Part 4:
“An excellent question,” replied the Colonel. “We used local ingenuity, my dear. Local ingenuity. You see, the people there have been trapping monkeys for hundreds of years. The monkey is a clever animal, but he is more selfish than he is clever. He can figure out how to get his hand on something to steal, but once he has it in that hand, he won’t ever let go until it is his. So we tied several crates to the top of our cart, each with a freshly cut mango inside. Then we made holes in them just large enough so that monkey hands would fit in but the mango wouldn’t come out. On our trip, the monkeys descended on our cart and smelled the mangos. They fought over which ones got to stick their little hands inside to grab those fresh mangos. When we stopped the cart, the monkeys scattered — all except the ones with their hands stuck in the crate, too greedy to let go. So, we would untie those crates with monkeys attached and give them to the locals to…to take away… and relocate.”
He held up a hand again and pointed at it adding, “So the very thing that they cause trouble with gets them into trouble, too.”
“Did you get rid of all the monkeys in Africa, sir?” asked a boy with bright red hair and a nose generously sprinkled with freckles.
“No, young fellow,” laughed the Colonel. Then he pointed at the large tree behind him.
“You see this tree. It has squirrels in it right?” he said to general agreement. “If I were to take the squirrel family that lived there away, another family that lived say, over there in that smaller tree would look at it and say, ‘that’s a nice tree and there are no squirrels living in it. I’ll bet it has lots of nuts. We should go live there.’ And they would. So you would never have an attractive tree like this with no squirrels, right?”
The audience bobbled their heads as if they understood.
“It is, unfortunately, the same with monkeys,” said the Colonel. “We removed as many as we could, and by the time the next ship came in, there were at least as many monkeys there as there had been before. And they were stealing from us again. To them, our supplies were just like that nice big tree the squirrel family wanted. So they came in droves with their cute little hands and chit-chit noises and robbed us blind.”
He finished his story by slapping his knees to add emphasis and the children laughed. The mothers behind them clapped their approval, and the Colonel couldn’t suppress a “dreadful vermin,” muttered under his breath.
Conclusion coming soon
Vervet Monkey photo credit: Whit Welles