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Title: A Man in the Zoo
Author: Garnett, David
Language: English
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                           A MAN IN THE ZOO



                                   A
                            MAN IN THE ZOO

                                  by

                             DAVID GARNETT

                   Illustrated with wood engravings
                           by R. A. GARNETT

                            [Illustration]

                                TORONTO
                       THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF
                            CANADA LIMITED

                                 1924


                           _SPECIAL EDITION
                       FOR SALE ONLY IN CANADA_


                          _PRINTED IN ENGLAND
                              ALL RIGHTS
                               RESERVED_


                                  TO
                           HENRIETTA BINGHAM
                                  AND
                             MINA KIRSTEIN



                             AUTHOR’S NOTE


I have to thank Mr. Arthur Waley for permission to quote from his
translation of a poem by Wang Yen-shou, which appears in “The Temple and
other Poems,” published by Messrs. Allen & Unwin.

I also wish to say that the Royal Zoological Society has always been the
object of my respect and admiration, and that in this story, neither
explicitly nor implicitly, is anything intended that could be regarded
as derogatory to the Society in any sense.



[Illustration]

A MAN IN THE ZOO

[Illustration]


John Cromartie and Josephine Lackett gave up their green tickets at the
turnstile, and entered the Zoological Society’s Gardens by the South
Gate.

It was a warm day at the end of February, and Sunday morning. In the air
there was a smell of spring, mixed with the odours of different
animals--yaks, wolves, and musk-oxen, but the two visitors did not
notice it. They were lovers, and were having a quarrel.

They came soon to the Wolves and Foxes, and stood still opposite a cage
containing an animal very like a dog.

“Other people, other people! You are always considering the feelings of
other people,” said Mr. Cromartie. His companion did not answer him, so
he went on:

“You say somebody feels this, or that somebody else may feel the other.
You never talk to me about anything except what other people are
feeling, or may be going to feel. I wish you could forget about other
people and talk about yourself, but I suppose you have to talk of other
people’s feelings because you haven’t any of your own.”

The beast opposite them was bored. He looked at them for a moment and
forgot them at once. He lived in a small space, and had forgotten the
outside world where creatures very like himself raced in circles.

“If that is the reason,” said Cromartie, “I do not see why you should
not say so. It would be honest if you were to tell me you felt nothing
for me. It is not honest to say first that you love me, and then that
you are a Christian and love everybody equally.”

“Nonsense,” said the girl, “you know that is nonsense. It is not
Christianity, it is because I love several people very much.”

“You do not love several people very much,” said Cromartie, interrupting
her. “You cannot possibly love people like your aunts. Nobody could. No,
you do not really love anybody. You imagine that you do because you have
not got the courage to stand alone.”

“I know whom I love, and whom I do not,” said Josephine. “And if you
should drive me to choose between you and everybody else, I should be a
fool to give myself to you.”

                     +--------------------------+
                     |          DINGO ♂         |
                     |  _Canis familiaris var._ |
                     |NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA|
                     +--------------------------+

“Poor little Dingo,” said Cromartie. “They do shut up creatures here on
the thinnest pretexts. He is only the familiar dog.”

[Illustration]

The Dingo whined, and wagged his tail. He knew that he was being spoken
of.

Josephine turned from her lover to the Dingo, and her face softened as
she looked at it.

“I suppose they have got to have everything here, every single kind of
beast there is, even if it turns out to be nothing but an ordinary dog.”

They left the Dingo, walked to the next cage, and stood side by side
looking at the creature in it.

“The slender dog,” said Josephine, reading the label. She laughed, and
the slender dog got up and walked away.

“So that is a wolf,” said Cromartie, as they stopped six feet further
on. “Another dog in a cage.... Give yourself to me, Josephine, that
sounds to me as if you were crazy. But it shows anyway that you are not
in love with me. If you are in love it is all or nothing. You cannot be
in love with several people at once. I know because I am in love with
you, and other people are all my enemies, necessarily my enemies.”

“What nonsense!” said Josephine.

“If I am in love with you,” Cromartie went on, “and you with me, it
means that you are the only person who is not my enemy, and I am the
only person who is not yours. A fool to give yourself to me! Yes, you
are a fool if you fancy you are in love when you are not, and I should
be a fool to believe it. You do not give yourself to the person with
whom you are in love, you are yourself instead of being dressed up in
armoured plate.”

“Has this place got nothing in it besides tame dogs?” asked Josephine.

They walked together towards the lion house, and Josephine took John’s
arm in hers. “Armoured plate. It doesn’t seem to me to make sense. I
cannot bear to hurt the people I love, and so I am not going to live
with you, or do anything that they would mind if they found out.”

John said nothing to this, only shrugged his shoulders, screwed up his
eyes, and rubbed his nose. In the lion house they walked slowly from
cage to cage until they came to a tiger which walked up and down, up and
down, up and down, turning his great painted head with intolerable
familiarity, and with his whiskers just brushing the brick wall.

“They pay for their beauty, poor beasts,” said John, after a pause. “And
you know it proves what I’ve been saying. Mankind want to catch anything
beautiful and shut it up, and then come in thousands to watch it die by
inches. That’s why one hides what one is and lives behind a mask in
secret.”

“I hate you, John, and all your ideas. I love my fellow creatures--or
most of them--and I can’t help it if you are a tiger and not a human
being. I’m not mad; I can trust people with every feeling I have got,
and I shall never have any feelings that I shouldn’t like to share with
everybody. I don’t mind if I am a Christian--it’s better than suffering
from persecution mania, and browbeating me because I’m fond of my father
and Aunt Eily.”

But Miss Lackett did not look very browbeaten as she said this. On the
contrary her eyes sparkled, her colour was high and her looks imperious,
and she kept tapping the toe of her pointed shoe on the stone floor. Mr.
Cromartie was irritated by this tapping, so he said something in a low
voice on purpose so that Josephine should not be able to hear it; the
only word audible was “browbeating.”

She asked him very savagely what he had said. John laughed. “What’s the
use of my talking to you at all if you fly into a rage before you have
even heard what I have got to say?” he asked her.

Josephine turned pale with self-control; she glared at a placid lion
with such fury that, after a moment or two, the beast got up and walked
into the den behind his cage.

“Josephine, please be reasonable. Either you are in love with me or else
you are not. If you are in love with me it can’t cost you much to
sacrifice other people to me. Since you won’t do that it follows that
you are not in love with me, and in that case you only keep me hanging
round you because it pleases your vanity. I wish you would choose
someone else for that sort of thing. I don’t like it, and any of your
father’s old friends would do better than me.”

“How dare you talk to me about my father’s old friends?” said Josephine.
They were silent. Presently Cromartie said, “For the last time,
Josephine, will you marry me, and be damned to your relations?”

“No! You silly savage!” said Josephine. “No, you wild beast. Can’t you
understand that one doesn’t treat people like that? It is simply wasting
my breath to talk. I’ve explained a hundred times I am not going to make
father miserable. I am not going to be cut off with a shilling and
become _dependent_ on you when you haven’t enough money to live on
yourself, to satisfy your vanity. My _vanity_, do you think having you
in love with me pleases my _vanity_? I might as well have a baboon or a
bear. You are Tarzan of the Apes; you ought to be shut up in the Zoo.
The collection here is incomplete without you. You are a
survival--atavism at its worst. Don’t ask me why I fell in love with
you--I did, but I cannot marry Tarzan of the Apes, I’m not romantic
enough. I see, too, that you do believe what you have been saying. You
do think mankind is your enemy. I can assure you that if mankind thinks
of you, it thinks you are the missing link. You ought to be shut up and
exhibited here in the Zoo--I’ve told you once and now I tell you
again--with the gorilla on one side and the chimpanzee on the other.
Science would gain a lot.”

“Well, I will be. I am sure you are quite right. I’ll make arrangements
to be exhibited,” said Cromartie. “I’m very grateful to you for having
told me the truth about myself.” Then he took off his hat and said
“Good-bye,” and giving a quick little nod he walked away.

“Miserable baboon,” muttered Josephine, and she hurried out through the
swing doors.

They were both of them in a rage, but John Cromartie was in such a
desperate rage that he did not know he was angry, he only thought that
he was very miserable and unhappy. Josephine, on the other hand, was
elated. She would have enjoyed slashing at Cromartie with a whip.

That evening Cromartie could not keep still. When the chairs presumed to
stand in his path he knocked them over, but he soon found that merely
upsetting furniture was not enough to restore his peace of mind. It was
then that Mr. Cromartie made a singular determination--one which you may
swear no other man in like circumstances would ever have arrived at.

It was somehow or other to get himself exhibited in the Zoo, as if he
were part of the menagerie.

It may be that a strange predilection which he had for keeping his word
is enough to account for this. But it will always be found that many
impulses are entirely whimsical and not to be accounted for by reason.
And this man was both proud and obstinate, so that when he had decided
upon a thing in passion he would brave it out so far that he could no
longer withdraw from it.

At the time he said to himself that he would do it to humiliate
Josephine. If she loved him it would make her suffer, and if she did not
love him it would not matter to him where he was.

“And perhaps she is right,” he said to himself with a smile. “Perhaps I
am the missing link, and the Zoo is the best place for me.”

He took his pen and a sheet of paper and sat down to write a letter,
though he knew that if he achieved his object he would be bound to
suffer. For some little while he thought over all the agonies of being
in a cage and held up to the derision of the gaping populace.

And then he reflected that it was harder for some of the animals than it
would be for himself. The tigers were prouder than he was, they loved
their liberty more than he did his, they had no amusements or resources,
and the climate did not suit them.

In his case there were no such added difficulties. He told himself that
he was humble of heart, and that he resigned his liberty of his own free
will. Even if books were not allowed him, he could at all events watch
the spectators with as much interest as that with which they watched
him.

In this manner he encouraged himself, and the thought of how terrible it
was for the tigers touched his heart so much that his own fate seemed to
him easier to contemplate.

After all, he reflected, he was so unhappy at that moment that nothing
could be worse whatever he did. He had lost Josephine, and it would be
easier to bear that loss in the discipline of a prison. Strengthened by
these considerations, he shook his pen and wrote as follows:--

     DEAR SIR,

     I write to lay before your Society a proposal which I hope you will
     recommend to them for their earnest consideration. May I say first
     that I know the Society’s Gardens well, and much admire them? The
     grounds are spacious, and the arrangement of the houses is at the
     same time practical and convenient. In them there are specimens of
     practically the whole fauna of the terrestrial globe, only one
     mammalian of real importance being unrepresented. But the more I
     have thought over this omission, the more extraordinary has it
     appeared to me. To leave out man from a collection of the earth’s
     fauna is to play Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. It may seem
     unimportant at first sight, since the collection is formed for man
     to look at, and study. I admit that human beings are to be seen
     frequently enough walking about in the Gardens, but I believe that
     there are convincing reasons why the Society should have a specimen
     of the human race on exhibition.

     Firstly, it would complete the collection, and, secondly, it would
     impress upon the mind of the visitor a comparison which he is not
     always quick to make for himself. If placed in a cage between the
     Orang-outang and the Chimpanzee, an ordinary member of the human
     race would arrest the attention of everyone who entered the Large
     Ape-house. In such a position he would lead to a thousand
     interesting comparisons being made by visitors for whose education
     the Gardens do in a large measure exist. Every child would grow up
     imbued with the outlook of a Darwin, and would become aware not
     only of his own exact place in the animal kingdom, but also in what
     he resembled, and in what he differed from the Apes. I would
     suggest that such a specimen be shown as far as possible in his
     natural surroundings as he exists at the present time, that is to
     say in ordinary costume, and employed in some ordinary pursuit.
     Thus his cage should be furnished with chairs and a table and with
     bookcases. A small bedroom and a bathroom at the back would enable
     him to retire when necessary from the public gaze. The expense to
     the Society need not be great.

     To show my good faith I beg to offer myself for exhibition, subject
     to certain reservations which will not be found of an unreasonable
     nature.

     The following particulars of my person may be of assistance:--

            Race: Scottish.
            Height: 5 feet 11 inches.
            Weight: 11 stone.
            Hair: Dark.
            Eyes: Blue.
            Nose: Aquiline.
            Age: 27 years.

     I shall be happy to furnish any further information which the
     Society may require.

                              I am, Sir,
                        Your obedient Servant,
                            JOHN CROMARTIE.

When he had gone out and posted this letter Mr. Cromartie felt at peace,
and he prepared for the reply with much less anxiety than most young men
would have felt in such a situation.

It would be tedious to describe at any length how this letter was
received by a deputy in the absence of the secretary, and how it was by
him communicated to the working committee on the following Wednesday. It
may, however, be of interest to note that Mr. Cromartie’s offer would in
all probability have been rejected had it not been for Mr. Wollop. He
was a gentleman of advanced years who was not popular with his fellow
members. Mr. Cromartie’s letter, for some reason, threw him into a
paroxysm of rage.

This was a deliberate insult, he declared. This was no laughing matter.
It was a matter which must and should and should and must, without
question, be wiped out by legal proceedings. It would expose the Society
to ridicule if they took it lying down. This and much more in the same
strain gave the rest of the committee time to turn the thing over in
their minds.

One or two first took the opposite view from Mr. Wollop from mere habit;
the Chairman observed that the presence of such an interesting
correspondent as Mr. Cromartie could not fail to be a great attraction
and would increase the gate-money; it was not, however, until Mr. Wollop
threatened to resign that the thing was done.

Mr. Wollop withdrew, and a letter was drafted to Cromartie informing him
that the committee were inclined to accept his proposal, and asking for
a personal interview.

This interview took place the following Saturday, by which time the
committee had become convinced that a specimen of _Homo sapiens_ ought
certainly to be acquired, though it was not convinced that Mr. Cromartie
was the right man, and Mr. Wollop had retired to Wollop Bottom, his
rustic seat.

The personal interview was entirely satisfactory to both sides, and Mr.
Cromartie’s reservations were accepted without demur. These dealt with
food and drink, clothing, medical attention, and one or two luxuries
which he was to receive. Thus he was to be allowed to order his own
meals, see his own tailor, be visited by his own doctor, dentist, and
legal advisers. He was to be allowed to administer his own income, which
amounted to about £300 a year, neither was objection to be raised to his
having a library in his cage, and writing materials.

The Zoological Society on their side stipulated that he should not
contribute to the daily or weekly press; that he should not entertain
visitors while the Gardens were open to the public; and that he should
be subject to the usual discipline, as though he were one of the
ordinary creatures.

A few days served to prepare the cage for his reception. It was in the
Ape-house, behind which a larger room was furnished for his bedroom,
with a bath and lavatory fixed behind a wooden partition. He was
admitted on the following Sunday afternoon, and introduced to his keeper
Collins, who also looked after the Orang-outang, the Gibbon, and the
Chimpanzee.

Collins shook hands and said that he would do all he could to make him
comfortable, but it was obvious that he was embarrassed, and strangely
enough this embarrassment did not diminish as time went on. His
relations with Cromartie always remained formal, and were characterised
by the most absolute politeness, which, needless to say, Cromartie
scrupulously returned.

The cage had been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected, a plain carpet
had been laid down, and it was furnished with a table where Cromartie
had his meals, an upright chair, an armchair, and at the back of the
cage a bookcase. Nothing but the wire-netting front and sides separating
him from the Chimpanzee on one side, and the Orang-outang on the other,
distinguished it from a gentleman’s study. Greater magnificence
characterised the furniture of his bedroom, where he found that he had
been provided with every possible comfort. A French bed, a wardrobe, a
cheval glass, a dressing-table with mirrors in gilt and satinwood,
combined to make him feel at home.

John Cromartie employed Sunday evening in unpacking his belongings,
including his books, as he wished to appear an established institution
by the time visitors arrived on the Monday. For this purpose he was
given an oil lamp, as the electric wiring had not been completed for the
cage.

When he had been busy for a short time he looked about and found
something very strange in his situation. In the dimly-lit cage on his
right the Chimpanzee moved uneasily; on the other side he could not see
the Orang-outang, which must have been hiding in some corner. Outside,
the passage was in darkness. He was locked in. At intervals he could
hear the cries of different beasts, though he could rarely tell which it
was from the cry. Several times he made out the howl of a wolf, and once
the roar of a lion. Later the screaming and howling of wild animals
became louder and almost incessant.

Long after he had arranged all his books in the shelves and had gone to
bed, he lay awake listening to the strange noises. The clamour died
away, but he lay waiting for the occasional laugh of the hyæna or the
roar of the hippopotamus.

In the morning he was woken early by Collins, who came to ask him what
he would have for breakfast and during the day, and added that workmen
had come to fix a board at the front of his cage. Cromartie asked if he
might see it, and Collins brought it in.

On it was written:--

             +-----------------------------------------------+
             |               _Homo sapiens_                  |
             |                    MAN ♂                      |
             | This specimen, born in Scotland, was presented|
             | to the Society by John Cromartie, Esq.        |
             | Visitors are requested not to irritate the    |
             | Man by personal remarks.                      |
             +-----------------------------------------------+

When Cromartie had had breakfast there was very little to do; he made
his bed and began reading “The Golden Bough.”

Nobody came into the Ape-house until twelve o’clock, when two little
girls came in; they looked into his cage, and the younger of them said
to her sister:

“What monkey’s that? Where is it?”

“I don’t know,” said the elder girl. Then she said: “I believe the man
is there to be looked at.”

“Why he’s just like Uncle Bernard,” said the little girl.

They looked at Cromartie with an offended stare, and then went on at
once to the Orang-outang, who was an old friend. The grown-up people who
came in during the afternoon read the notice in a puzzled way, sometimes
aloud, and more than once after a hurried glance they went out of the
house. They were all embarrassed except a jaunty little man who came in
just before closing time. He laughed, and laughed again, and finally he
had to sit down on a seat, where he sat choking for three or four
minutes, after which he took off his hat to Cromartie and went out of
the house saying aloud: “Splendid! Wonderful! Bravo!”

The next day there were rather more people, but not a great crowd. One
or two men came and took photographs, but Mr. Cromartie had already
learnt a trick that was to serve him well in his new situation--that of
not looking through the bars, so that often he would not know whether
there were people watching him or not. Everything was made very
comfortable for him, and on that score he was glad enough that he had
come.

Yet he could not help asking himself what did his surroundings matter to
him? He was in love with Josephine, and now he had parted from her for
ever. Would the pain he felt on that account ever die away? And if it
did, as he supposed it would, how long would it take to do so?

In the evening he was let out, and walked round the Gardens alone. He
tried to make friends with one or two of the creatures, but they would
not take notice of him. The evening was cool and fresh, and he was glad
to be out of the stuffy Ape-house. He felt it very strange to be alone
in the Zoo at that hour, and strange to have to go back to his cage. The
next day, just after breakfast, a crowd began pushing into the house,
which was soon packed full. The crowd was noisy, some persons in it
calling out to him very persistently.

It was easy enough for Cromartie to ignore them, and never let his eyes
wander through the wire-netting, but he could not prevent himself from
knowing that they were there. By eleven o’clock his keeper had to fetch
four policemen, two standing at each door to keep the crowd back. The
people were made to stand in a queue, and to keep moving all the time.

This went on all day, and in fact there were thousands waiting to see
“The Man” who had to be turned away before they could get a sight of
him. Collins said it was worse than any bank-holiday.

[Illustration]

Cromartie did not betray any uneasiness; he ate his lunch, smoked a
cigar, and played several games of Patience, but by tea-time he was
exhausted, and would have liked to go and lie down in his bedroom, but
it seemed to him that to do so would be to confess weakness. What made
it worse, because more ridiculous, was that the Chimpanzee and the
Orang-outang next door, each came to the partition walls and spent the
whole day staring at him too. No doubt they were only imitating the
public in doing so, but they added a great deal to poor Mr. Cromartie’s
unhappiness. At last the long day was over, the crowds departed, the
Gardens were closed, and then came another surprise--for his two
neighbours did not go away. No, they clung to the wire partitions and
began to chatter and show their teeth at him. Cromartie was too tired to
stay in the cage, and went and lay down in his bedroom. When he came
back after an hour the Chimpanzee and the Orang were still there, and
greeted him with angry snarls. There was no doubt about it--they were
threatening him.

Cromartie did not understand why this should be until Collins, who had
come past, explained it to him.

“They are wild with jealousy,” he said, “that you should have drawn such
a large crowd.” And he warned Mr. Cromartie to be very careful not to go
within reach of their fingers. They would tear his hair out and kill him
if they could get at him.

At first Mr. Cromartie found this very hard to credit, but afterwards,
when he got to know the characters of his fellow captives better, it
became the most ordinary commonplace. He learnt that all the monkeys,
the elephants, and the bears felt jealous in this way. It was natural
enough that the creatures that were fed by the public should feel
resentment if they were passed over, for they are all insatiably greedy,
and the worse they digest the food given them the more anxious they are
to glut themselves with it. The wolves felt a different jealousy, for
they were constantly forming attachments to particular persons among the
crowd, and if the chosen person neglected them for a neighbour they
became jealous. Only the larger cats, lions, and panthers seemed free
from this degrading passion.

During his stay Mr. Cromartie gradually came to know all the beasts in
the Gardens pretty well, since he was allowed out every evening after
closing-time, and very often was allowed to go into other cages. Nothing
struck him more forcibly than the distinction which most of the
different creatures very soon drew between him and the keepers. When a
keeper came past every animal would pay some attention, whereas few of
them would even look round for Mr. Cromartie. He was treated by the vast
majority with indifference. As time went on he saw that they treated him
as they treated each other, and it struck him that they had somehow
learnt that he was being exhibited as they were themselves. This
impression was so forcible that Mr. Cromartie believed it without
question, though it is not easy to prove that it was so, and still more
difficult to explain how such a piece of knowledge could have spread
among so heterogeneous a collection of creatures. Yet the attitude of
the animals to each other was so marked, that Mr. Cromartie not only
observed it in them, but very soon came to feel it in himself for them.
He could not describe it better than by calling it firstly “cynical
indifference,” and then adding that it was perfectly good-natured. It
was expressed usually by total indifference, but sometimes by something
between a yawn of contempt and a grin of cynical appreciation. It was
just in these slight shades of manner that Mr. Cromartie found the
animals interesting. Naturally they had nothing to say to him, and in
such artificial surroundings their natural habits were difficult to
ascertain, only those living in families or colonies ever seeming
perfectly at their ease, but they all did seem to reveal something of
themselves in their attitude to each other. To man they showed quite
different behaviour, but in their eyes Mr. Cromartie was not a man. He
might smell like one, but they saw at once that he had come out of a
cage.

There is in this a possible explanation of the often recorded fact that
it is particularly easy for convicts to make friends with mice and rats
in prison.

For the rest of that week crowds collected round the new Ape-house every
day, and the queue for admittance was longer than that at the pit of
Drury Lane Theatre on a first night.

Thousands of people paid for admission to the Gardens and waited
patiently for hours in order to catch a glimpse of the new creature
which the Society had acquired, and none were really disappointed when
they had seen him, although many professed to be so. For everyone went
away with what people are most grateful for having--that is, a new
subject for conversation, something that everyone could discuss and have
an opinion about, viz., the propriety of exhibiting a man. Not that this
discussion was confined to those who had actually been successful in
catching a glimpse of him. On the contrary it raged in every train, in
every drawing-room, and in the columns of every newspaper in England.
Jokes on the subject were made at public dinners, and at music-halls,
and Mr. Cromartie was referred to continually in _Punch_, sometimes in a
facetious manner. Sermons were preached about him, and a Labour member
in the House of Commons said that when the working classes came into
power the rich would be put “alongside the Man in the Zoo, where they
properly belonged.”

What was the strangest thing was that everyone held the view either that
a man ought to be exhibited, or that he ought not to be exhibited, and
that after a week’s time there were not half a dozen men in England who
believed no moral principle to be involved in the matter.

Mr. Cromartie cared less than nothing for all these discussions of which
he was the subject; it was no more to him indeed what men said about him
than if he had been the ape in the cage beside his own. Indeed it was
really less, for had the ape been able to understand that thousands of
people were talking about it, the creature would have been as much
puffed up with pride as now it was mortified with jealousy that its
neighbour should draw so vast a crowd.

Mr. Cromartie told himself he cared nothing for the world of men now. As
he looked through the meshes of his cage at the excited faces watching
him, it cost him an effort to listen to what was being said of him, and
after a while his attention wandered even against his will, for he cared
nothing for mankind and cared nothing for what they said.

Yet while he told himself that with some complacency, something came
into his mind which threw him into such disorder that he looked about
him for a minute as if he were distracted, and then ran as if in terror
into his hiding-place, his place of refuge, his bedroom, which he had
not sheltered in before, at least not in that way.

“What if I should see Josephine among them?” he asked himself aloud, and
the thought of her coming was so actual to him that it seemed as if she
were at that moment entering the house, and then were there at the bars
already.

“What can I do?” he asked himself. “I can do nothing. What can I say? I
can say nothing. No, I must not speak to her, I will not look at her.
When I see her I will sit down in my armchair and look on the floor
until she is gone, that is, if I have the strength. What will become of
me if she should come? And perhaps she will come every day and will be
always there watching me through the bars, and will call out and insult
me as some do already. How could I bear that?”

Then he asked himself why should she come at all, and began to persuade
himself that there was no reason why she should visit him, and that it
was the most irrational fear that could seize hold of him--but it would
not do.

“No,” said he at length, shaking his head, “I see she is bound to come.
She is free to go where she likes, and one day when I look up I shall
see her there, staring into my cage at me. Sooner or later it is bound
to happen.” Then he asked himself what errand would send her there to
look at him? Why would she come? Would it be to mock at him and torment
him, or would it be because now that it was too late she repented of
sending him there?

“No,” he told himself, “no, Josephine will never repent, or if she
should, she would not own to it. When she does come here it will be to
hurt me more than she has done already; she will come to torture me
because it amuses her and I am at her mercy. Oh, God, she has no mercy
in her.”

At this Mr. Cromartie who was so proud only a half-hour ago, saying he
cared nothing for mankind now and nothing for what they said, began to
cry and whimper like a baby, staying hidden all the while in his little
bedroom. He sat there on the edge of his bed with his face buried in his
hands for a quarter of an hour, and the tears running through his
fingers. And all the while he was busy with this new fear of his, and
saying to himself first that his life was no longer safe, that Josephine
would bring a pistol and shoot him through the bars; and then his
thoughts fetching about, that she cared nothing for him, and would not
come to hurt him, but from mere love of notoriety and to get herself
talked about by her friends or in the newspapers. At last he pulled
himself somewhat together, washed his face and bathed his eyes, and then
went back into his cage, where you may be sure the crowd was pretty
impatient to see him after being kept waiting so long.

Once again you could see how this Mr. Cromartie “cared nothing for
mankind and what they said.” For the moment that he stepped into his
cage in full view of the public, from being an abject creature with his
face comically twisted up to keep back his tears, he became at once
quite calm and self-possessed and showed no trace of any feeling. Yet
did this assumed calm show that he cared nothing for mankind? Was it
because he cared nothing for mankind that he made these efforts,
swallowing down the lump that was risen in his throat, holding back the
tear that would have started to his eye, and strolling in with a serene
smile, then knitting his brows with an affectation of thought; and was
all this because he cared nothing for mankind?

The strange thing was that Mr. Cromartie should have taken three weeks
to think that Josephine would certainly come and pay him a visit. For
three weeks he had been thinking at every moment of the day of this girl
Josephine, and, indeed, dreaming of her almost every night, but it had
never come into his head that he would ever see her again. He had told
himself a thousand times, “We are parted for ever,” and had never asked
himself, “Why do I say this?” He had, one evening, even retraced their
steps as they had wandered from one cage to another on the day that they
had had their final rupture. But now all these sentimental ideas were a
thousand miles away from him, who, though he lay back, yawned, and
negligently cut the pages of a book from Mudie’s, was all the same
terrified at the question he kept asking himself:

“When will she come? Will she come now, to-day, or perhaps to-morrow?
Will she not come till next week, or not for a month?”

And his heart shrank within him as he understood that he would never
know when she was coming and he would never be prepared for her.

But with all this flutter Mr. Cromartie was like a countryman coming
into town a day late for the fair, for Josephine had already paid him a
visit that day two hours before he had ever thought that she might do
so.

When she had come Josephine did not know at all certainly why she found
herself there. Every day since she had heard of the “loathsome thing”
John had done she had vowed that she would never see him again, and
would never think of him again. Every day she spent in thinking of him,
and every day her anger drove her to walk in the direction of Regent’s
Park, and all her time was occupied in thinking how she could best
punish him for what he had done.

At first it had been insupportable for her. She had heard the news from
her father at breakfast while he was reading _The Times_, and had learnt
it in fragments as he chanced to read it out to her while she sat silent
with the coffee machine and the egg machine in front of her, for her
father stickled for his eggs being boiled very exactly. When breakfast
was over she found _The Times_ and read the account of the “Startling
Acquisition by the Zoo Authorities.” She told herself then that she
could never forgive or forget the insult to which she had been
subjected, and that while she sat at breakfast she had grown an old
woman.

As time went on Josephine’s fury did not slacken; no, it became
greater; and it passed through a dozen or more phases every day. Thus at
one moment she would laugh with pity for such a poor fool as John, in
the next marvel that such a creature should have the sense to know where
he belonged, then turn all her rage on the Zoological Society for
causing such an outrage to decency to occur in their grounds, and
reflect bitterly on the folly of mankind who were ready to divert
themselves at such a sorry spectacle as the degraded John--reducing
themselves indeed to his level. Again, she would exclaim at the vanity
which led him to such a course; anything would do so long as he got
himself talked about. No doubt he would see that she, Josephine, was
talked about too. Indeed, John, she declared, had done it solely to
affront her. But he had gone the wrong way to work if he thought he
would impress her. She would indeed go to see him and show him how
little she cared for him; no, what was better, she would go visit the
other ape next door to him. That was the way by which she could best
show him her indifference to him, and her superiority to the vulgar mob
of sightseers. Nothing would induce her to look at such a base creature
as John. She could not regard his action with indifference. It was a
calculated insult, but fortunately he would alone suffer for it, for as
for herself she had never cared in the least for him, and her complete
indifference was not likely to be ruffled by his latest escapade. Indeed
it meant no more to her than any other creature being exhibited.

Thus Miss Lackett drove round and round in circles, vowing vengeance at
one time and the next moment swearing that it was all one to her what he
did, she had never cared for him and never would. But do what she might
she could think of nothing else. At night she lay awake saying to
herself first one thing and then another, and changing her mind ten
times for every time she turned her head on the pillow, and thus she
spent the first three or four days and nights in misery.

Yet in all this there was something that wounded Miss Lackett more even
than the fact itself, and that was the consciousness of her own
worthlessness and vulgarity. Everything she felt, everything she said,
was vulgar. Her preoccupation with Mr. Cromartie was vulgar, and every
emotion connected with him which she now felt was degrading. In fact,
after the first few days this weighed on her so heavily that she was
almost ready to forgive him, but she could never forgive herself. All
her self-respect was gone for ever, she told herself; henceforward she
knew that she was never disinterested. She had offended herself more
than any number of Cromarties would ever do. She was, she said, deeply
disappointed in herself, and wondered how it had come about that this
side of her nature should have been so long unsuspected by her.

It was this turning off of her rage and indignation against herself that
finally allowed of her going to see him, or rather of her going to see
the Chimpanzee next him, for she repeated to herself that she would not
look at him, that she could not endure to see him, and so on, though at
moments this decision was modified by the reflection that she only hoped
he would feel properly punished when he saw her give him one glance of
cool contempt.

Miss Lackett found the event different from her expectations. In front
of the Ape-house a crowd was collected, and directly she had joined it
she found herself caught up in a queue of people waiting to see “The
Man.” On all sides she heard jokes about him, and those of the women
(who were in the majority) struck her as being barely decent. Progress
was extremely slow and very exhausting.

At last, when she found herself in the building itself, it was
impossible for her to carry out her intention of looking only at the
apes, for she suddenly became overcome at the thought of seeing them and
closed her eyes lest she should see an ape and be overcome by nausea. In
a few minutes she found herself in front of Cromartie’s cage, and gazed
at him helplessly. At that moment he was engaged in walking up and down
(which occupation, by the way, took up far more of his time than he ever
suspected). But she could not speak to him, indeed she dreaded that he
should see her.

Back and forth he walked by the wire division, with his hands behind his
back and his head bent slightly, until he reached the corner, when up
went his head and he turned on his heel. His face was expressionless.

Before she got out Miss Lackett was to have another shock, for, leaving
Mr. Cromartie’s cage, she let her eyes wander and suddenly was looking
straight into the mug of the Orang. This creature sat disconsolately on
the floor with her long red hair matted and entangled with straws. Her
close-set brown eyes were staring in front of her and nothing about her
moved but her black nostrils, that were the shape of an inverted heart
and set in a mask of black and dusty rubber. This, then, was the
creature that her lover resembled! It was to this melancholy Caliban
that everyone compared him! Such a hideous monster as this ape was
thought a suitable companion for the man with whom she had imagined
herself in love! For the man whom she had considered marrying!

Miss Lackett slipped silently out of the house, sick with disgust and
weighed down with shame. She was ashamed of everything, of her own
feelings, of her weakness in caring what happened to John. She was
ashamed of the spectators, of herself, and of the dirty world where such
men, and beasts like them, existed. Mixed with her shame was fear which
grew greater with every step she took. She was alarmed lest she would be
recognised, and looked at everyone she passed with nervous apprehension;
even after she had got out of the Gardens she did not feel safe, so that
she got herself a taxi and climbed in almost breathlessly, and even then
looked behind her through the pane of glass in the back. Nothing
followed her.

“Thank God, it is all right. There is no danger,” she said to herself,
though what the danger was of which she spoke she could not have said.
Perhaps she was afraid that she might be shut up in a cage herself.

The next day Miss Lackett had somewhat shaken off the painful
impressions caused by her visit, and her chief emotion was a sensible
relief that it had turned out no worse.

“Never again,” she said to herself, “shall I be guilty of such folly.
Never again,” she repeated, “need I run such an awful risk. Never again
shall I think of that poor fellow, for I shall never need to. Out of
justice to him I had to see him, even though at a distance, and without
his seeing me. It would have been cowardly not to have gone, it would
not have been in keeping with my character. But it would be cowardice in
me to go again. It would be weak. After all I had to indulge my
curiosity, it would have been fatal to have suppressed it. Now I know
the worst and the affair is closed for ever. If I were to go again it
would be painful to me and unjust to him, for I might be recognised; if
he heard that I had been twice it would fill him with false hopes. He
might conclude that I wished to speak with him. Nothing, nothing could
be farther from the truth. I think he is mad. I feel sure he is mad.
Talking to him would be like those interviews that people have to have
once a year with their insane relatives. But fortunately for me my duty
coincides with my inclinations--I ought not to see him and I abhor the
thought of doing so. There is no more to be said.”

It was not often that Miss Lackett was so consistent in her thoughts,
neither, we may add, was she often quite so prim. She managed to repeat
such phrases over and over again to herself throughout the week, but
somehow she did not succeed in forgetting all about Mr. Cromartie, or
even in putting him out of her thoughts for more than an hour or two at
a time.

On the fourth day after her visit it so happened that General Lackett
gave a dinner-party at which his daughter acted as hostess. Several of
the guests were young, and one or two of them not very well to do. It
was natural in these circumstances, as the General had rather
thoughtlessly dismissed his chauffeur for the evening, that his daughter
should offer to drive some of her young friends home. One of them lived
in Frognal, two others in Circus Road, St. John’s Wood. On the outward
journey Miss Lackett took the ordinary route from Eaton Square, that is,
by Park Lane, Baker Street, Lord’s, and the Finchley Road as far as
Frognal, afterwards bringing her other companions back to Circus Road.

It was then, after saying good-bye, and good-bye again as she drove
away, that she gave way to a feeling of unrest. She drove slowly to
Baker Street station, but by that time she was thinking of Mr.
Cromartie. This caused her, almost mechanically, to swing her car round
to the left, and shortly afterwards to take the Outer Circle. As she
drove, her mind was almost blank; she was driving in that direction
merely to dissipate a mood. All she was conscious of was that Cromartie
was there--in the Zoo. She was tired, and driving distracted her. In a
few moments she was passing the Gardens. She pulled up just over the
tunnel, before reaching the main entrance. At this point she was as
close as she could get to the new Ape-house, which lay, as she knew,
under the shadow of the Mappin Terraces. She got out of the car and
walked up to the palings. They were too high for her to look over, and
when she pulled herself up by her hands there was nothing to be seen but
the black shadows of evergreens and, through one break in them, a corner
of the Mappin Terraces--a silhouette of black against the moonlight. As
she looked it came into her head that it was like something familiar to
her. Her wrists ached and she jumped down.

“John, John, why are you in there?” she said aloud. In a few moments she
saw a policeman approaching her, so she got back into her car and drove
on slowly.

As she passed the main entrance she turned again, and again she saw the
Mappin Terraces.

“The Tower of Babel, of course,” she said aloud, “in Chambers’s
Encyclopedia. It’s like Noah’s Ark, too, I suppose, as it’s a menagerie,
and--Oh, curse! Oh, damn!” There were tears in her eyes, and the street
lamps had become little circular rainbows. But what she said to herself
was that it was awkward driving.

That night she could not sleep, and could find none of the ordinary
defences against unhappiness. That is to say, she was unable to affect
any kind of superiority to her troubles, besides which she saw them
exactly as they were, in their naked horror, and was not able to put
them in conventional categories. For could Miss Lackett have said to
herself: “I have been in love with John, now I find he is mad. This is a
terrible tragedy, it is very painful to think of people being mad, for
me it is a disappointment in love. Such disappointments are the most
painful to which a girl in my position can be exposed,” and so on--if
she could have done this then Miss Lackett would have found a sure way
to reduce her suffering to a minimum. For by putting forward such
general ideas as madness and disappointment in love she could very soon
have come to feel only the general emotion suited to these ideas. But as
it was she could only think of John Cromartie, his face, voice, manners,
and way of moving; of the particular cage in which she had last seen
him, the smell of apes, the swarm of people staring at him and laughing,
and of her own loneliness and misery which John had deliberately caused.
That is to say she thought only of her pain, and did not cast about to
give it a name. And naming a sorrow is a first step to forgetting it.
About three o’clock in the morning she got out of bed and went down to
the dining room, where she found a decanter of port, another of whiskey,
and some Bath Olivers. She poured herself out a glass of port and
tasted it, but its sweetness disgusted her, so she put it down and
helped herself to the whiskey. After she had got down half a wineglass
of the spirit, taking it neat as it came from the bottle, she felt much
calmer. She drank another glass of it and then went up to her room,
threw herself on her bed, and at once fell into a heavy, drunken sleep.

During these days Mr. Cromartie had by no means got rid of his
apprehensions of seeing Josephine. The thought which tormented him most
was that he was at her mercy, that is to say, that she was at liberty to
visit him whenever she liked, and to stay away as long as she chose. The
material conditions of his life did not change in any degree, though
there was no longer a vast crowd anxious to see him at all times; and
from four policemen, two were soon thought to be enough to regulate his
visitors. After another week the two were reduced to one, but though the
crowd was scantier each day this policeman was left permanently, more as
a protection for Mr. Cromartie than anything else, for certain persons
had shown themselves very disobliging to him. Indeed, Mr. Cromartie had
had to complain on two occasions, and that not only of abusive language.
But during this time very little had changed in his material
surroundings; this is not saying there was no alteration in Mr.
Cromartie’s state of mind. In that respect there were two forces at
work. One was that he was now continually thinking of Josephine and
expecting a visit from her, and, that as his circle of ideas grew
smaller in solitude, he became more and more taken up by imagining how
she would come, what she would say, and so forth. Thus he was
continually rehearsing scenes with Josephine, and this habit interfered
with his daily reading and at times even alarmed him about his sanity.
In the second place, perhaps because thinking so much of Josephine made
him withdraw into himself, he became shy, was annoyed by the spectators,
and felt something approaching a repulsion for the animals in the
menagerie.

This feeling was naturally intensified in regard to his immediate
neighbours, the female Orang and the Chimpanzee. In their case he was
indeed only making a slight return for the ill will they bore him, which
seemed to increase with every day. Mr. Cromartie was really much to
blame for an aggravation of their natural and, one may say, reasonable
dislike of him. For not only did he draw a larger crowd than fell to
their share, but he persistently ignored them, and so neglected ordinary
civilities that he would have made himself exceedingly unpopular had his
neighbours been human beings like himself. This was due to a singular
defect of imagination in him rather than to natural want of manners, for
in ordinary life he always showed himself perfectly well bred. If an
excuse can be found for his conduct it is that he believed that the
proper thing for him to do was to ignore the very existence of his
neighbours, and also that Collins, his keeper, never set him right on
this point. The fact is that Collins was never perfectly easy with Mr.
Cromartie, and that he was the kind of man to take offence himself.
Indeed, he was more jealous of the feelings of his old favourites, the
two apes, than he was quite aware of. Besides this he had lost the
Gibbon, which had been given to another keeper when Mr. Cromartie had
come, and there is no hiding the fact that Collins would have liked to
have the Gibbon back in Mr. Cromartie’s place. For one thing the ape had
given him less work, and for another, it had never been at any time in
its life his social superior. Besides that, Collins had, for we should
do him justice, a very positive affection for the animal. One evening,
after a day passed in a most desultory way, Mr. Cromartie was sitting in
his cage sucking his pipe, when suddenly he saw Miss Lackett come into
the empty house.

This was the evening of the day after her troubled night. In the morning
she had resolved to settle the question whether Cromartie were mad or
not, to make a judgment on the subject that would be impartial and
definitive, for she felt convinced that if she could not settle the
question of his sanity one way or the other, there would be no doubt of
her losing hers.

But when she had got into the Gardens she found it impossible to see Mr.
Cromartie alone. A crowd, though not as large as formerly, was still
clustered round the Ape-house the whole of the morning. Between one and
two there were always some persons before his cage whose presence
rendered it impossible for her to speak with him. She saw then that the
only thing was for her to wait till last thing at night and to hurry in
just at closing time. All this delay upset the arrangements of her day.
The knowledge that she had promised to call for her old schoolfellow,
Lady Rebecca Joel, and to go on and take tea at Admiral Goshawk’s, and
to go out afterwards with them, worried her excessively. At the last
minute she sent messages pleading headache and indisposition, and then
found nothing to do until closing time at the Zoo. To stay in the
Gardens for so long was intolerable. To add to her discomfort the sky
clouded over and a sharp storm came on, the air soon being filled with
sleet, snowflakes and hailstones. She ran out of the Gardens, getting
wet as she did so, and it was some moments before she could find a taxi.
When once inside there was the absolute necessity of telling the man
where to take her.

“Baker Street,” said she. For Baker Street is a central point from which
she could easily go wherever she wished. This was the reason, it will be
remembered, that made the great detective Holmes choose to have his
rooms in Baker Street, and to-day it is still more central. All
Metro-Land is at one’s feet.

But the time taken between the Zoo and Baker Street Tube station is
short, and Miss Lackett arrived with no clearer idea of where to go or
what to do than she had when she first ran out of the Gardens. To be
sure the rain had stopped for the time being, and she walked briskly
along the Marylebone Road. For she belonged to the order of society
which cannot loiter in the street. She marched away without any purpose,
wondering what she would do with herself, when on came the storm again
with a sudden gush of rain. Josephine looked about her and found a
refuge offered by the gates of a large red-brick building, which she
entered. It was Madame Tussaud’s.

She had never as a child visited the celebrated collection of wax-work
effigies, and she was at once interested in what she saw there. Some
internal voice bade her make the most of this casual opportunity, to
throw aside her temporary unhappiness, and enjoy herself.

She fell into a peaceful state of mind, and for several hours in
succession gave herself up to the pleasure of gazing at the formal
figures of the most celebrated persons of this and former ages. For the
most part they were the great Victorians and dated from last century.
There were but few other visitors, but the great saloons are always
crowded, and everywhere that she looked she found familiar faces.

Josephine had been presented at Court, but had not been impressed by the
experience. Madame Tussaud’s seemed to her like a more august
presentation at an Eternal Levee.

At one end of the room there were indeed the royal families of Europe in
their coronation robes. There was an air of formality, a stiffness, and
a constraint in all present which seemed to her natural in guests
waiting for their host to come in. And perhaps in another moment a
curtain would be brushed aside, and the Host of Hosts would appear.

Josephine did not wait any longer, but ran downstairs to the Chamber of
Horrors.

Before it seemed possible it was time to go back to the Gardens, if she
were to see Cromartie before closing time. She walked quickly into the
house, and found Cromartie sitting near the front of his cage as if he
were expecting to see her. As she came up to the cage he put down the
pipe he had been holding in his mouth and stood up, seeming then to
overshadow her, the floor of his cage being higher than the corridor in
which she stood.

“Please sit down,” she said, and then was silent, finding nothing of all
the things she had come to tell him ready to her tongue.

He obeyed her.

They looked then at each other for some little while in silence. At last
Josephine summoned up her resolution and said to him, speaking in a low
voice:

“I think that you are mad.”

Cromartie nodded his head; he had huddled himself up in his chair and
apparently was unable to speak.

Josephine waited and said: “I was very worried about you, because I
thought at first that something I had said to you might have made you
behave in this idiotic way, but it is now quite clear to me that even if
what I said did have any influence, you are quite mad, and that I need
not think about you any more.”

Cromartie nodded his head again. She noticed with some surprise that he
was weeping, and that his face was wet with tears which were falling on
to the floor of his cage. The sight of his tears and his determined
silence made her harden her heart. She felt suddenly angry.

The bell began ringing for closing time, and she heard someone, probably
the policeman, with his hand on the door talking to another man outside.
Josephine turned away, but a moment afterwards came back to the cage.
Cromartie was walking away from her blowing his nose.

“You must be mad,” she called after him; then the door opened and the
policeman came in.

“Hurry up, Miss, or you’ll have to stay here all night, and you know
that would never do,” she heard him say as she hurried away.

Though Josephine’s visit had been painful, it did not succeed in
distressing Cromartie for very long. Indeed, after a short time he
recovered himself completely, and reasoning upon what she had said, and
the reasons of her coming at all, he found much with which to comfort
himself. In the first place, all the secret doubts he had had in the
last week of his own sanity were now dissipated. He was not going to
believe that he was mad, he said to himself, simply because Josephine
Lackett told him so. Besides which, he felt sure that she only affirmed
that he was mad because it suited her to believe it. If he were actually
insane it would relieve her of any necessity of thinking of him, and
that she had felt any such necessity to exist was in itself extremely
gratifying. Furthermore, he felt certain that if Josephine had really
been convinced of his insanity she would not have paid him a visit in
order to tell him of it. Even Josephine would not find any satisfaction
in such useless inhumanity. If she felt bound to take any steps in the
matter she would have gone to the officers of the Society and insisted
that he should be examined by a mental doctor, and if necessary
certified as a lunatic. And with these very satisfactory reasons Mr.
Cromartie assured himself that he was not really mad, or even in any
danger of becoming so, though he did not doubt that Josephine would
readily persuade herself to the contrary.

Happiness and misery are purely relative, and Mr. Cromartie was now
raised into a state of the highest spirits by considerations which would
not ordinarily produce such a result. But after the condition of
complete despair in which he had been plunged for several weeks, he
could hardly imagine any greater bliss than knowing that Josephine was
having to persuade herself that he was mad in order to be able to
dismiss him from her thoughts.

But it must not be concluded from this that Mr. Cromartie indulged in
any sort of hope. He did not even consider the possibility of escaping
from the Zoo or of winning Josephine’s love, because he had never had
any ambition to do either. Such thoughts would have seemed to him not
only ridiculous but also dishonourable. He had taken his course with his
eyes open, and the question whether he should abide by it or not was not
even open to consideration. In this respect the Zoological Society were
indeed fortunate in their selection of a man. For though there is little
doubt that Mr. Cromartie would have been given his liberty whenever he
asked for it, without his having recourse to extreme measures such as
refusing food or imploring the aid of visitors in rescuing him, yet
letting him go would have been a cause of vexation to the Society. It is
not to be supposed that there would have been any difficulty in
replacing him by another specimen of his species. No, the reason why
they would have felt his loss such a severe blow is because the public
readily attaches itself to the individual animals in the Zoo, and is not
to be consoled when such a favourite dies, or disappears, even if it is
instantly replaced by an even finer specimen of the same species. Many
persons habitually resort to the Gardens in order to visit their
particular friends, Sam, Sadie and Rollo, and not merely to look at any
polar bear, orang, or king penguin. And this applies quite as forcibly
to the Fellows of the Society as to the outside public. It was natural,
therefore, that they should entertain hopes that the new acquisition to
the Gardens should remain in it for the rest of his natural life, and
though he could not vie with the other creatures in general popularity
when once the vulgar curiosity about him had worn off, yet it was to be
hoped that in time he would develop as much personality as if he were a
bear or an ape.

While Sir James Agate-Agar was being shown over the house by the
curator, he referred to Cromartie as “your local Diogenes.” The name was
immediately on the lips of everyone who moved in Zoological circles.
There was opportunity here for Mr. Cromartie had he been disposed to
take it. When once the vulgar publicity which had attended his
installation had passed, there were many persons in the upper ranks of
London society who were anxious to make Mr. Cromartie’s acquaintance,
and had he known enough to take up the part marked out for him, there is
no doubt but that he could have had as much society as he cared for, and
that of persons of the very front rank, all of whom were animated by the
most genuine interest in him and friendliness towards him, though
naturally not without the expectation that they would in exchange be
entertained by his remarks, for such a man as the Diogenes of the Zoo
must surely be a great oddity.

But though Mr. Cromartie had every intention of remaining for the rest
of his life in the cage provided for him, he had no idea of the social
opportunities which doing so would afford him, and he appreciated them
so little that he most steadily repulsed all overtures of the kind, and
betrayed an obvious reluctance to enter into conversation with anyone,
even the curator himself. At the time in question, however, this was set
down to a not unnatural self-consciousness in the new situation in which
he found himself, and also to the disturbing effect of being exhibited
daily to a large crowd, among whom there were persons whose offensive
behaviour excited the greatest indignation.

It was several days after this first interview before he was to see Miss
Lackett again. During this period he had much to think of, but his
spirits remained high; for the first time for ten days he took a walk
round the Gardens from pleasure, and not from a feeling that he must
have some fresh air if he were to keep well. For several evenings he sat
motionless for half an hour or more near the beavers’ and the otters’
pools, and was frequently rewarded by a glimpse of the former, though
only on one occasion by the latter. Whatever creatures in the Gardens
had most retained their native wildness were sure to attract him. They
seemed to him, in his rather warped state of mind, to have preserved
their self-respect. It was to accomplish this in his own particular case
which was his chief concern, though of course he was perfectly well
aware that it did not consist in behaving with any shyness. On the
contrary, Mr. Cromartie’s self-respect depended upon his maintaining an
appearance of unruffled calm, together with the utmost civility in all
his relations with those with whom he had any business.

One evening as he was watching for the foxes, the keeper of the small
cats’ house came up to him and entered into conversation. After a few
trivial remarks which served their ordinary purpose--that is they let
Mr. Cromartie know that the keeper was a pleasant fellow and
well-disposed to him--he said:

“I think it would be a good plan if you were to make a pet of one of the
animals, that is, if you would like to. It seems a waste for you to be
here and not make one of the out-of-way kind of pets.”

Mr. Cromartie had been thinking that day that perhaps the greatest
disadvantage under which he lay in his situation, was that he could not
have any familiar friend. His former life had been utterly renounced and
was now closed to him, so that it was no use his looking backwards for
one. At the same time he was so utterly cut off from the ordinary run of
humanity that he would not care to risk having any intercourse with his
fellows lest he should be exposed to pity, or to an offensive curiosity.

The suggestion of this keeper could not have come at a better time, for
he saw that though he might not care for a _pet_ he might make a
_friend_. In any case, he reflected, equality of circumstances is an
excellent basis for any acquaintanceship, and he could nowhere share the
circumstances of an animal’s life so well as he could here in the Zoo.
Had he gone into a tropical jungle it would have been no closer, for
there, though the animals would have been at home, he would not.

He followed the keeper into the small cat house, and talked with him for
a little while longer.

It so happened that one of the beasts directly under the care of this
man had attracted Mr. Cromartie when he went into the house before. For
in the Caracal he saw an unhappiness to match his own, combined with
beauty. The Caracal, poor creature, never stopped moving, holding its
face to the bars of its little cage. It moved back and forth with
tireless rapidity, and a monotony which seemed inspired by unutterable
sorrow.

At his request the keeper now took out the Caracal for him to speak to
it.

For several days after this Mr. Cromartie never failed to pay the
Caracal a visit every evening, and while making very few overtures to
it, he showed the creature that he was more disposed to be friendly than
most of its fellow captives. This persistence was not thrown away, for
after five or six days the Caracal would stop his sad motions before his
bars when Cromartie came in, and would look after him with evident
regret when the time came for him to go away.

The keeper, on his side, was mightily pleased at his Caracal’s getting
such a companion, and perhaps the more so as it was not his own
favourite; in particular the man gave himself all the credit for
advising Mr. Cromartie to make a pet of some beast or other. It was not
long before he spread the news of it, telling the curator and others of
the staff who might be interested.

The upshot of all this was that one evening as Cromartie was sitting
reading, locked in for the night, suddenly he heard the door unlocked
and beheld the curator come to pay him a visit.

“Oh, I just stepped in, Mr. Cromartie,” said the curator in the most
friendly way, “for a word or two. The keeper of the small cats’ house
tells me that you have made quite a pet of the Caracal.”

At these words Cromartie turned a little pale, and said to himself: “The
fat is in the fire now. He is going to forbid us continuing our
friendship; I ought to have expected it.”

The next words the curator said quite undeceived him, for he went on:
“Now how would you like, Mr. Cromartie, to have that fellow in your--in
with you here, I mean? You need not have him unless you like, of course,
and you need not keep him a day longer than you want to. I am not trying
to save space, I assure you.”

Mr. Cromartie accepted the suggestion thankfully, and it was agreed that
the Caracal should come and pay him a trial visit for a few days.

The next evening he went as usual to the small cat house, but this time
when the Caracal was let out he invited him to come back with him, and
with very little demur the creature followed him and then walked with
him by his side, and then, his confidence increasing, the cat ran before
him a few yards, stopping every now and then as if to ask him:

“Which way shall we go now, comrade?”

[Illustration]

Then as Cromartie came up with him he shook the tassels of his tufted
ears and again ran on before. You may be sure that the poor Caracal did
not suffer from nostalgia for his little cage. No, indeed, he ran into
his friend’s more commodious quarters as if he would be content to stay
in them for ever, and after he had trotted all round them four or five
times and leapt up on to the table and down off each of the chairs, he
settled down as if he were at home, and perhaps indeed he was so for the
first time since he was come to the Gardens.

This pretty kind of cat, for such he found the Caracal to be (not but
what it had some virtues for which cats are not usually famous), proved
a very great solace to him in his captivity. For the creature had a
thousand playful tricks and pretty ways which were a delight to him. For
so long he had not been able to see anything all day except his
neighbours the sordid apes, and the staring faces of a crowd which
seemed to share all the qualities of those apes (and with less excuse
for being there), that it was a rare kind of happiness for him to have a
graceful and charming creature beside him. Moreover it was his
companion, the friend of his choice, and the sharer of his misfortunes.
They were equals in everything, and there was in their love none of that
fawning servility on the one side and domineering ownership on the other
that makes nearly all the dealings of men and animals so degrading to
each of the parties. Though it may seem fanciful, there was actually a
strong resemblance in the characters of these two friends.

Both were in their nature gay and sportive, with pleasant manners which
admirably concealed the untamed wildness of their tawny hearts. But the
resemblance lay chiefly in their excessive and stubborn pride. In both
of them pride was the mainspring of all their actions, though
necessarily the quality must show itself very differently in a man and
in a rare and precious kind of a cat. In imprisonment, though in one
case it was voluntarily made, and in the other case forced, neither
would fawn or make utter and complete submission.

For though Mr. Cromartie always showed a complete resignation and
exemplary obedience, yet it was only a feigned submission after all.

The visit of his new friend was to the liking of both parties, and in
general they found none of the difficulties that sometimes attend
living at close quarters. It is true that the Caracal was no sleeper at
night, but spent all the early part of it prowling hither and thither;
still it was on very silent and padded feet, and by morning he would be
tired of roaming, so that on waking up Mr. Cromartie never failed to
find his friend curled up on the bed beside him.

In all their relations the man never attempted to exercise any authority
over the beast; if the Caracal wandered away he did not call him back,
nor did he try to tempt him with any tit-bits from his table, nor by
rewards of any sort train him to new tricks. Indeed, to look at them
both together it would seem as if they were unaware of each other’s
presence, or that nothing but a total indifference existed between them.
Only if the Caracal trespassed too far on his patience, either by eating
his food before he had finished, or by playing with his pen if he were
writing, would he swear at him or give him a little cuff to show his
displeasure. Once or twice on such occasions the Caracal bared his teeth
at him and stretched out his sharp and wicked claws, but yet he always
thought again before using them on his big, slowly moving friend. Once
or twice, of course, as might have been expected, Mr. Cromartie got
scratched, but this was done in play or was merely accidental; indeed,
it almost always was when the Caracal, leaping up from the ground upon
his shoulder, held on lest he should over-balance. Only once was this at
all serious, and then because the Caracal, trying a higher jump than
usual, landed on his head and the nape of his neck. Mr. Cromartie cried
out in surprise and pain, and the Caracal drew in his claws instantly,
and by purring and many affectionate rubbings of his body against his
friend, sought to make amends for his misdeed. Mr. Cromartie was
bleeding from ten dagger wounds on his scalp, but after the first moment
he spoke gently to the cat and forgave him fully. All this was, however,
nothing when weighed against the happiness he had in having a companion
to be with him in his captivity, and a companion who was so much the
happier for having him.

At Cromartie’s request the Caracal was now installed permanently with
him, and another board was attached to the front of the cage, beside his
own. It bore the inscription:

               +-----------------------------------------+
               |                 CARACAL                 |
               |                                         |
               |        _Felis Caracal._ ♂ Iraq.         |
               |                                         |
               | Presented by Squadron N, R.A.F., Basra. |
               +-----------------------------------------+

There were no pictures attached of either Man or Caracal, as it was
taken for granted that visitors would be able to distinguish them. The
public showed a great appreciation of the Man’s sharing his cage with an
animal, and Mr. Cromartie suddenly became, what he had not been before,
extremely popular. The tide turned, and everybody found charming the
person who had so scandalised them. Instead of ill-natured remarks, or
even insults, Mr. Cromartie’s ears were assailed with cries of delight.

This change was certainly one for the better, though Mr. Cromartie
reflected that in time it might become as tedious as ill-natured remarks
had been formerly. His defence was the same against each, that is, he
shut his ears, never looked through the netting if he could help it, and
read his books as if he were indeed a scholar working in his own study.

He was sitting in this way reading “Wilhelm Meister,” with his companion
the Caracal at his feet, when he suddenly heard his name called and
looked up.

There was Josephine, standing before him, looking in at him, her face
pale, her mouth rigid, and her eyes staring.

Up jumped Mr. Cromartie, but as he was surprised his self-control was
gone for an instant.

“My God! What have you come for?” he asked her in agitated tones.

Josephine was taken aback for a moment by this greeting, and as he
strode to the front of his cage, stepped back away from him. For the
moment she was confused. Then she said:

“I have come to ask you about a book. The second volume of ‘Les Liaisons
Dangereuses.’ Aunt Eily is fussing about it. She says the plates make it
a very valuable edition. She suspects me of reading it too, and thinks
it unsuitable....”

As she spoke Cromartie began laughing, screwing up his eyes and showing
his teeth.

“So my forgetfulness has got you into a scrape, has it?” he asked. Then:
“I’m most awfully sorry. I’ve actually got it here. I’ll post it to you
to-night. I can’t slip it through the wire netting, unfortunately.
That’s one of the drawbacks of living in a cage.”

Josephine had not seen Cromartie looking so charming for a long time.
Her own expression changed also, but she still remained shy and awkward,
and was obviously afraid of someone coming into the Ape-house and
finding them together, talking.

For a moment or two they were silent. She looked at the Caracal and
said:

“I read in the paper about your having a companion. I expect it is a
very good plan. You are looking better. I’ve been having bronchitis, and
have been laid up for a fortnight since you saw me last.”

But as Josephine spoke Cromartie’s face clouded over again. He noticed
her awkwardness and was annoyed by it. He remembered also her last
visit, and how she had behaved then. Recollecting all this he frowned,
drew himself up, rubbed his nose rather crossly, and said:

“You must realise, Josephine, that seeing you is excessively painful to
me. In fact I am not sure I can endure being exposed to the danger of it
any longer. Last time you came to see me for the purpose of informing
me that you think I am mad. I don’t think you are right, but if I cannot
guard myself from seeing you I daresay I shall go mad. I must therefore
ask you in the interests of my own health, if for nothing else, never to
come near me again. If you have anything to say of an urgent nature--if
there should be another book of yours, or any reason of that sort, you
can always write to me. Nothing you can say or do can be anything but
extremely painful and exhausting, even if you felt kindly disposed
towards me; but from your behaviour I can only conclude you want to give
me pain and come here to amuse yourself by hurting me. I warn you I am
not going to submit to being tortured.”

“I’ve never heard such nonsense, John. I hoped you were better, but now
I am sure you really are mad,” said Josephine. “I’ve never been spoken
to in such a way. And you imagine that I of all people want to see you!”

“Well, I forbid your coming to see me in the future,” said Mr.
Cromartie.

“Forbid! You forbid!” cried Josephine, who was now furious with him.
“You forbid me to come! Don’t you realise that you are being exhibited?
I, or anyone else who pays a shilling, can come and stare at you all
day. Your feelings need not worry us; you should have thought of that
before. You wanted to make an exhibition of yourself, now you must take
the consequences. Forbid me to come and look at you! Good heavens! The
impertinence of the animal! You are one of the apes now, didn’t you know
that? You put yourself on a level with a monkey and you are a monkey,
and I for one am going to treat you like a monkey.”

This was said in a cold, sneering sort of way that was altogether too
much for Mr. Cromartie. The blood flew to his head, and with a face
distorted with almost insane rage he shook his fist at her through the
bars. When at last he was able to speak it was only to tell her in an
unnatural voice:

“I shall kill you for that. Confound these bars!”

“They have some advantages,” said Josephine coolly. She was frightened,
but as she spoke Mr. Cromartie lay down on the floor of his cage and she
saw him stuff his handkerchief into his mouth and bite it; there were
tears in his eyes, and sometimes he fetched a deep groan as if he were
near his end.

All this frightened Josephine more even than his threatening that he
would murder her. And seeing him rolling there as if he were in a fit
made her repent of what she had said to him, and then she came right up
to the netting of his cage and began to beg him to forgive her, and to
forget what she had said.

“I did not mean one word of it, dearest John,” said she in a new and
altered voice, which scarce reached to him, it was so soft. “How can you
think I want to hurt you when I come to this wretched prison of yours to
see you because I love you, and cannot forget you in spite of all that
you have done only on purpose to hurt me?”

“Oh, go away, go away, if you have any pity left in you,” said John. His
own voice was now come back to him, but he sobbed once or twice between
his words.

Meanwhile the Caracal, who had watched all this scene and listened to it
with a great deal of wonder, now came up to him and began to comfort him
in his distress, first sniffing at his face and hands and then licking
them.

And before anything more could be said between Josephine and John, the
door opened and a whole party of people were come in to see the apes. At
that Josephine went out of the house and out of the Gardens, and getting
into a cab went straight home, all as if she were in a nightmare. As for
Mr. Cromartie, he struggled quickly on to his feet and hurried out of
his cage into his hiding-place to wash his face, comb his hair, and
compose himself a little before facing the public; but when he went back
the party were gone away and there was only his Caracal staring at him
and asking him as plain as words:

“What is the matter, my dear friend? Are you all right now? Is it over?
I am sorry for you, although I am a Caracal and you are a man. Indeed, I
do love you very tenderly.”

There was only the Caracal when he went back into his cage, only the
Caracal and “Wilhelm Meister” lying on the floor.

That night Miss Lackett suffered every torment which love can give, for
her pride seemed to have deserted her now when she most wanted it to
support her, and without it her pity for poor Mr. Cromartie and her
shame at her own words were free to reduce and humble her utterly.

“How can I ever speak to him again?” she asked herself. “How can I ever
hope to be forgiven when I have gone twice to him in his miserable
captivity, and each time I have insulted him and said the things which
it would hurt him most to hear?”

“From the very beginning,” she told herself, “it has all been my fault.
It is I who made him go into the Zoo. I called him mad, and mocked at
him and made him suffer, when everything has been due to my ungovernable
temper, my pride and my heartlessness. But all the time I have suffered,
and now it is too late to do anything. He will never forgive me now. He
will never bear to see me again and I must suffer always. If I had
behaved differently perhaps I could have saved him and myself too. Now I
have killed his love for me, and because of my folly he must suffer
imprisonment and loneliness for ever, and I myself shall live miserably
and never again dare hold up my head.”

Providence has not framed mankind for emotions such as these; they may
be felt acutely, but in a healthy and high-spirited girl they are not of
a very lasting nature.

It was only natural, then, that after giving up the greater part of the
night to the bitterest self-reproach and to the completest humiliation
of spirit, and after shedding enough tears to make her pillow
uncomfortably damp, Miss Lackett should wake next morning in a very
hopeful state of mind. She determined to visit Mr. Cromartie that
afternoon, and despatched a note acquainting him with her intention in
these terms:

                                                          Eaton Square.

     DEAR JOHN,

     You know well that the reason why I behaved badly is because I
     still love you. I am very much ashamed, please forgive me if you
     can. I must see you to-day. May I come in the afternoon? It is very
     important, because I don’t think we can either of us continue like
     this much longer. I will come in the afternoon. Please consent to
     see me, but I will not come unless you send me word by the
     messenger that I may.

                                                                 Yours,
                                                     JOSEPHINE LACKETT.

The moment that Josephine had sent off the messenger she regretted what
she had said in it, and nothing seemed to her then more certain than
that her letter would exasperate Cromartie still further. The next
moment she thought to herself: “I have exposed myself to the greatest
humiliation a woman can receive.” For a second or two this filled her
with terror, and at that moment she would have readily killed herself.
As neither poisons, poignards, pistols or precipices were within reach
she did nothing, and in less than a minute the mood passed, and she said
to herself:

“What does my humiliation matter? I suffered more of that last night
than I can ever suffer again. Last night I humiliated myself in my own
eyes. If John tries to humiliate me to-day he will find the work done.
Meanwhile I must be self-controlled. I have no time to waste on my
emotions; I have many things to do. I must see John, and as I am in love
with him I have got to make terms with him. I have got to make a bargain
with him.”

Acting on these thoughts she went out at once, meaning to walk to the
Zoo without waiting any longer for the messenger boy to come back. But
her mind was still busy.

“I will completely forgive him, and offer to become engaged to him
secretly in return for his instantly leaving the Zoo.”

She did not reflect as she said this that nothing would be easier for
her than to break off such an engagement, whereas if Cromartie once left
the Gardens it was improbable that they would take him back.

But when she got to the Marble Arch she had to wait a little before
crossing the road, and she noticed a man selling newspapers beside her.
On the placard he carried she saw:

                            MAN IN THE ZOO
                               MAULED BY
                                MONKEY

For the first moment she did not connect the placard with her lover; she
permitted herself to be amused at the thought of a spectator having his
finger bitten, but in the next instant a doubt arose and she hurriedly
bought the paper.

“This morning the ‘Man in the Zoo,’ whose real name is Mr. John
Cromartie, was shockingly mauled by Daphne, the Orang in the next cage
to his.” Josephine read the account of the affair right through very
slowly.

It appeared that about eleven o’clock that morning Cromartie had been
playing ball in his cage with the Caracal. In dodging the Caracal he had
fallen heavily against the wire mesh partition separating him from the
Orang. While he had rested there for a moment the spectators were
horrified to see him seized by the Orang, which caught him by the hair.
Mr. Cromartie had put up his hands to prevent his face being scratched,
and the Orang had managed to get hold of his fingers and had cracked the
bones of them. Mr. Cromartie had shown great courage and had succeeded
in freeing himself before the arrival of the keeper. Two fingers were
crushed and the bones fractured; he had sustained several severe scalp
wounds and a scratched face. The only danger to be feared was blood
poisoning, as the injuries inflicted by apes are well known to be
peculiarly venomous.

On reading this Josephine suddenly remembered how the King of Greece had
died from the effects of a monkey bite, and she became more and more
alarmed. She called a taxi, got into it, and told the driver to take her
to the Zoological Gardens as fast as he could. All the way there she was
in a fever of agitation, and could settle nothing in her own mind.

Having arrived at the Zoo, she went straight to the house of the
resident curator, and was just in time to see Mr. Cromartie being
carried in on a stretcher, but before she could come up to it the door
was shut in her face. She rang, but it was almost five minutes before
the door was opened by a maidservant who took her card in, with the
request that she might see the curator as she was a friend of Mr.
Cromartie’s. Before the maid came back, however, the curator came out,
and Josephine explained her visit without any embarrassment. She was
invited in, and found herself in a fine well-lit dining-room in the
presence of two gentlemen in morning dress, and both with bushy
eyebrows. The curator introduced her as a friend of Mr. Cromartie’s, and
they both gave her a very keen look and bowed.

Sir Walter Tintzel, the elder of the two, was a short man with a rather
round red face; Mr. Ogilvie, a taller, youngish man, with a skin like
parchment, and a glass eye into which she found herself staring. “How is
the patient?” asked Josephine, falling at once into that state of mind
which is produced by the presence of distinguished medical men, and
particularly surgeons, a state of mind, that is, of almost complete
blankness, when however upset one may have been the moment before, one
finds all emotion suspended, or swallowed up in fog. All the faculties
at such a moment are concentrated on behaving with an absurd decorum.

“It is a little too early to say, Miss Lackett,” replied Sir Walter
Tintzel, who was filled with curiosity to find out more about her.

“My friend Mr. Ogilvie has just amputated a finger; in my opinion it
would have been running an unjustifiable risk not to have done so. There
were several minor injuries, but happily they did not require such
drastic measures. May I ask, Miss Lackett, without impertinence, if you
have known Mr. Cromartie long? You are, I understand, a personal friend,
a close and dear friend of Mr. Cromartie’s.”

Miss Lackett opened her eyes rather wide at this remark, and replied:

“I was naturally anxious.... Yes, I am an old friend of Mr.
Cromartie’s--and, if you like, a close friend.” She laughed. “Is there
danger of blood-poisoning?”

“There is a risk of it, but we have taken every precaution.”

“The King of Greece died of being bitten by a monkey,” cried Josephine
suddenly.

“That’s rubbish,” interrupted the curator, coming forward. “Why
everybody in the Gardens has been more or less seriously bitten by
monkeys at some time or other. It is always happening. It’s dreadful to
think that the poor fellow should have lost a finger, but there’s no
danger.”

“You are sure there’s no danger?” asked Josephine.

The curator appealed to the medical men. They allowed themselves to
smile.

Josephine withdrew, and in the hall the curator said to her:

“Don’t worry about him, Miss Lackett; it’s a beastly thing of course to
think of, but it’s not serious. He isn’t the King of Greece; the monkey
isn’t that sort of monkey even. He’ll be up and about in a day or two at
the most. By the way, is your father General Lackett?”

Josephine was surprised, but admitted it without hesitation.

“Oh, yes--he’s an old friend of mine. Drop in one day next week to tea
and see how our friend is going on.”

Josephine left in very much better spirits than she had come, and though
she once or twice was troubled by the recollection of Mr. Cromartie’s
unconscious form, the head swathed in bandages, and the body covered
with a blanket, she felt small anxiety. On the contrary, she very soon
gave herself up to rosy visions of the future.

Thus nothing appeared to her to be more clear than that Mr. Cromartie
would leave the Zoo, and the loss of a finger was perhaps not too high a
price to pay for restoring him to ordinary ways, or perhaps she might
say not too great a punishment for conduct such as his had been.

And it crossed her mind also that now there was no need for her to
humble herself to Cromartie, for he would leave the Zoo and become
reconciled to her now as a matter of course. It was for her to forgive
him! She had had a narrow escape. What a weak position she might have
been in had she seen him before the ape bit him! How strong a position
she now occupied! She must, she reflected, take this lesson to heart and
never act hurriedly on the impulse of the moment, otherwise she would
give John every advantage and there would be no dealing with him at all.
Next she recollected the letter she had sent him, and spent a little
while trying to recall the exact terms of it. When she remembered that
she had said that she was ashamed and had asked to be forgiven, she bit
her lips with vexation, but the next moment she stopped short and said
aloud: “How unworthy this is of you! How petty! How vulgar!”

And she remembered at that moment all the vulgar and horrible things she
had felt when she had first learnt that John had gone to the Zoo, and
how much ashamed she was of them afterwards, and how hatefully she had
behaved on both of her visits to him. She told herself then that she
ought to be ashamed, ought to ask forgiveness, and that she ought to be
thankful that she had done so in her letter, but in the next instant she
was saying to herself: “All the same, it won’t do to put myself at his
mercy. I must keep the upper hand or my life won’t be worth living.” And
after that her mind raced off again to visions of the future in which
John was rewarded with her hand and they took a country house. Her
father was an authority on fishponds and trout streams. He and Cromartie
would of course lay out a fishpond. Perhaps there would be a moat round
the house. But the figure who bent over her father’s shoulder at
breakfast, pushing away the egg-boiling machine to look at a plan of the
new trout hatchery, that figure was a very different person from Mr.
Cromartie the mutilated, monkey-bitten man in the Zoo.

When Josephine got home she found a note which had been left for her,
but which was not in Mr. Cromartie’s handwriting.

It ran as follows:

                                                        Infirmary, Zoo.

     DEAR JOSEPHINE,

     Your note has come by the messenger. I shall not be free to see you
     this afternoon, which relieves me from making the decision not to
     do so. You say that the reason you behave cruelly to me is because
     you love me. It is because I know that, that I have tried to do
     without your love. I think you are a character who will always
     torture the people you love. I cannot bear pain well; that alone
     makes us unsuited to each other. It is the principal reason why I
     never wish to see you again.

     You are mistaken when you say that you have something of the first
     importance to tell me. Unless it is something to do with the
     arrangements which the Zoo authorities make with regard to the
     Ape-house, it cannot be of importance to me.

     Please believe that I bear you no resentment for the past; indeed I
     still love you, but I mean what I say.

                              Yours ever,
                            JOHN CROMARTIE.

When Josephine had read this letter over twice and had realised that it
must have been written _after_ he had been bitten by the ape, and just
before his finger was cut off, she gave up her hopes.

Everything she had been feeling was revealed as ridiculous folly. If
John could write like that at the moment when he must have been most
wishing to escape from confinement, she saw that her plans for his
regeneration were impossible. She went up to her room and lay down. All
was lost.

That morning Mr. Cromartie had taken his breakfast of rolls, butter,
Oxford marmalade, and coffee as usual. When it had been cleared away he
began to play ball with the Caracal.

For this purpose he used an ordinary tennis ball, and throwing it on the
floor of his cage, made it bounce on to the netting and back to him. The
game therefore resembled fives, the object, however, being, on his part,
to prevent the Caracal intercepting the ball, which, by the way, he was
rarely able to do more than three or four times running, for the cat was
very quick on its legs and had a good eye.

After they had been playing for about ten minutes Mr. Cromartie slipped
backwards in taking a ball

[Illustration]

which bounced high, and fell heavily against the wire netting wall of
his cage. Before he could get his balance he felt himself taken hold of
by the hair, and understood at once that it was his neighbour the Orang
who had got him in its clutches. The brute then got a finger as far as
Mr. Cromartie’s ear and slit it through, though not injuring the drum.
Mr. Cromartie managed to turn his head then in order to see his
assailant, and found his face was now exposed, and his forehead was
scratched. To protect himself he put one hand in front of his face, and
was pushing himself away from the netting with the other when the Orang
caught hold of two of his fingers in its teeth. The pain of this made
him jerk his head free, and the lock of hair by which the Orang held him
came right out of his scalp.

The ape still held on to his fingers like a bulldog. Just then his
Caracal, which had been dodging about between his legs, got one paw
through the netting and raked the Orang’s thighs with his claws, but the
ape did not leave go even then. Mr. Cromartie, who had a very cool head
for a man in such a situation, took out a couple of wax vestas from his
pocket, struck them on his heel, and thrust the flaring fusees through
the wire into the ape’s muzzle and in that way made him leave go his
hold at once.

This circumstance of his feeling for the fusees in his pocket while the
ape was slowly grinding his fingers to a mere pulp very greatly
impressed the spectators, who beyond shouting for assistance were
powerless to do anything. No less remarkable was the way in which,
directly he was free, he pulled away the Caracal from the netting before
the ape could catch hold of him, and this though the cat was beside
itself with the fury of the fight. But strangely enough in doing this he
did not get scratched, either because he pulled him off by the scruff
with his uninjured hand and carried him right out of the cage, or
because the Caracal knew him even at that moment.

Collins arrived just as this happened and the shock was almost too much
for him; it was remarked that he was deathly white and could scarcely
speak. Mr. Cromartie was covered with blood, blood pouring from his ear
and his fingers, and all his hair matted with blood, but he came back at
once after locking up his Caracal, to show the spectators that he was
not badly hurt; they for their part clapped their hands with joy, either
because they were glad to see him escape, or because they were grateful
for having been presented with such an unusual spectacle for nothing.

Cromartie then went back to his inner room and Collins led him off at
once to the infirmary, where he was given first aid. It was some little
while after this that he received Josephine’s letter and dictated an
answer for the messenger to take to her. There was some little delay in
the messenger getting to him.

Directly he had despatched the letter he was anæsthetised and the third
finger of his right hand amputated.

After the operation and before he had regained consciousness, he was
taken to the house of the curator, who had decided that he would be more
comfortable there than anywhere else. Although at the time Mr. Cromartie
had behaved with perfect composure and had borne his injuries without
flinching, not only at the time of the assault, but for over three hours
afterwards, and had been able to compose a letter during that time as if
nothing had happened, he had received a great nervous shock the effects
of which only became apparent next day. He spent a very disturbed night,
but in the morning was much better; ate an ordinary breakfast but did
not get up, and Sir Walter Tintzel, who visited him about eleven
o’clock, was sanguine and predicted a rapid recovery. In the afternoon
he was restless and suffered acutely, and as evening came on his
temperature rose rapidly. That night he was in a condition of fitful
delirium, occasionally falling asleep and waking up with nightmares
which persisted even when he appeared to be wide awake.

On the second day the fever increased and blood-poisoning in an acute
form was recognised, but the patient was altogether rational in his
mind. On the third day the symptoms of blood-poisoning were more
pronounced. The patient fell into a delirium which lasted without
intermission for the following three days. Most of the feverish
hallucinations which filled his mind then passed completely away when
he recovered consciousness. Yet Mr. Cromartie had a clear and vivid
memory of one of them. This was, he knew, nothing but a dream, yet it
seemed but to have just happened to him, and the dream or vision was
singular enough for it to be put down here.

In the Strand people were hurrying along in little crowds like gusts of
dirty smoke that was blown at intervals in wisps across the road. They
were all coming towards him as he walked down from Somerset House
towards Trafalgar Square. No one was walking the same way that he was,
and none of the people he met brushed against him or even looked at him,
but they melted away to right and left and so let him pass by. Sometimes
when a band of them passed him he caught a whiff of their odour, and the
smell sickened him.

They were frightened, they hurried by, but he was thinking of that great
man Sir Christopher Wren, who had planned the street he was then walking
in. But nobody cared, nobody had built it, though the plans were all
there rolled up and ready, and just as good to-day as they were in the
reign of King Charles II.

He lifted up his head presently, and up in the sky a white streak was
being deliberately drawn. It was an aeroplane writing advertisements. So
he stood still in the middle of the hurrying crowds to watch it; now he
could just see the tiny aeroplane like a little brown insect. Slowly in
the sky a long straight line was drawn and then a loop--surely it must
be the figure 6. And then the aeroplane stopped throwing out smoke and
became almost invisible as it went off tittering across the sky.

The numeral swelled and grew and was being slowly blown away when all of
a sudden another white streak appeared and the aeroplane was drawing
something else. But as he watched he was aware that after all it was the
same thing again, another 6, and when it had done that the aeroplane
mounted again into the sky and drew another 6, but already its first
work was undone by the wind and in a few moments there was nothing to be
seen in the sky but a few wisps of smoke.

For a second or two Cromartie felt himself rocking in the aeroplane,
which went humming away across the sky before falling again sideways
like a snipe bleating; that was only a moment, as when you shut your
eyes and fancy that you can feel the earth spinning in space, and then
Cromartie was walking out of the Strand into Trafalgar Square. It was
empty, and he looked at the Nelson monument with wonder. Landseer’s
great beasts planted their feet flat down before them. What were they,
he wondered? Lions or Leopards, or perhaps Bears? He could not say. And
suddenly he saw that his right hand was bleeding and his fingers gone. A
great crowd had entered the Square; the fountains were playing, the sun
was shining, and he got on to a scarlet omnibus. But very soon he saw
that the people were whispering together on the omnibus and they were
all looking at him, and he knew that it was because they saw his
wounded hand. He put his other hand up to his forehead and there was
blood on that also. He was afraid then of the people on the bus and so
he got out. But wherever he wandered the people stopped and stared at
him and whispered, and as he walked among them they drew aside and
formed into little groups and gazed after him as he went by, and it was
because they knew him by the wounds on his head and on his hand.

They were all of them muttering and looking at him with hatred, but
something restrained them, so that though their eyes were like sharp
daggers they were one and all afraid to point their fingers....

He was going to vote. He would cast his vote. Nothing should stop him.
At last he saw the two entrances to the underground voting hall with
Ladies written over one and Gentlemen written over the other, and he
went downstairs. But when he asked the attendant for his voting card the
man took down a large book bound in lambskin with the wool left on, and
turned over several pages and looked down them. At last he said: “But
your name is not written in the Book of Life, Mr. Cromartie. You must
give up your secret, you know, if you wish to be registered.” When he
heard this Mr. Cromartie felt sick, and he noticed the smell that came
from all the other voters in their ballot boxes; he hesitated, and at
last he said:

“But if I do not give up my secret may I not vote?”

“No, Mr. Cromartie. Nobody can vote who does not give up his secret,
that is called the secrecy of the ballot--but it is out of the question
for you to vote, anyhow ... you bear the Mark of the Beast.”

And Mr. Cromartie looked at his hand and felt his forehead and saw that
he did indeed bear the Mark of the Beast where it had bitten him, and he
knew that he was an outcast. That was what everybody had whispered. He
would not give up his secret so he was rejected by mankind and hated by
them, for he frightened them. They were all alike, they had no secrets,
but he had kept his and now the Beast had set its Mark upon him, and he
seemed terrible to them all, and he himself was afraid. “The Beast has
set his Mark on me,” he said to himself. “It will slowly eat me up. I
cannot escape now, and one thing is as bad as another. On the whole I
would rather the Beast slowly ate me up than give up so much, and the
stench of my fellows disgusts me.”

And then he heard the Beast moving restlessly behind some partition; he
heard the rustling of straw and the great creature slowly licking itself
all over; and then its smell, sweet, and warm, and awful, swallowed him
up, and he lay quite still on the floor of the cage, listening to its
tail going thump, thump, thump on the floor beside him. Terror could go
no further, and at last he opened his eyes and slowly understood that it
was his own heart which was beating and no beast’s tail, and all about
him there were clean sheets and flowers and a smell of iodoform. But his
fear lasted for half that day.

In a fortnight Mr. Cromartie was pronounced out of danger, but he
continued in so weak a state for some time afterwards that he was not
allowed to receive any visitors, so that although Josephine called every
day it was only to hear the latest news of how he had passed the night,
and to leave flowers for the sickroom.

In the following weeks Mr. Cromartie made a rapid recovery; that is to
say, though by no means restored to his ordinary health, he was able
first to get up for an hour in the middle of the day, and then to go for
a short walk round the Gardens.

The doctors attending upon him suggested at this time that an entire
change of scene would be beneficial, and the curator, far from putting
any obstacles in the way of this, frequently urged the patient to go for
a month’s holiday to Cornwall. But in this he was met by a steady and
obstinate refusal, or rather by complete passivity and non-resistance.
Mr. Cromartie refused to take a holiday. He declined to go away anywhere
by himself, though he added that he was completely at the curator’s
disposal and prepared to go to any place where he was sent in charge of
a keeper. After some days, during which the curator proposed first one
scheme and then another, the plan of Mr. Cromartie’s being sent away was
abandoned. In the first place it was difficult to spare a keeper, or for
that matter to find a suitable man among the staff to go with Mr.
Cromartie, and it was difficult to find a suitable place where they
should be sent.

But the chief reason why these schemes were given up was because of the
apathetic and even hostile attitude which the invalid adopted to them,
and because it occurred to the curator that this hostility was perhaps
not without a reason.

And indeed there is no doubt that Mr. Cromartie felt that if he once
took such a holiday as had been suggested he would find it very much
harder to go back into captivity at the end of it, and he opposed it
because he was resolved not to escape from what he conceived were his
obligations.

It was therefore decided that Mr. Cromartie should go straight back to
his cage, though it was impressed upon him that he would not be expected
to be on view to the public any longer than he wished, and that he must
lie down to rest in his inner room for two or three hours every day.

In this way, and by taking him for motor-car drives for a couple of
hours or so after dark, it was hoped that he would be able to regain his
accustomed health and shake off that state of apathy which seemed his
most alarming symptom to the medical men who attended him.

But before Cromartie went back to his old quarters he was to hear a
piece of news from the curator which concerned him very closely, though
he did not at first realise the full significance of it.

The curator was so confused in imparting this information, and so
apologetic, and occupied so much time with a preamble explaining how
much the Zoological Society felt themselves indebted to him, that Mr.
Cromartie had some difficulty in following what he said, but at last he
got at the gist of it, and the long and the short of the matter was: The
experiment of exhibiting a man had been a much greater success than any
of the Committee had dared to hope; such a success, indeed, that it had
decided to follow it up by having a second man, a negro. It had actually
engaged him two or three days since, and had installed him only that
day. The intention of the Committee was eventually to establish a
“Man-house” which should contain specimens of all the different races of
mankind, with a Bushman, South Sea Islanders, etc., in native costume,
but such a collection could of course only be formed gradually and as
occasion offered.

The embarrassment of the poor curator as he made these revelations was
so extreme that Cromartie could only think of how best to set him once
more at his ease, and though he had a very distinct moment of annoyance
when he heard of the negro, yet he suppressed it completely. When the
curator had been persuaded that Cromartie bore him no grudge for these
innovations, nay more, that he was perfectly indifferent to them, his
joy and relief were as overwhelming as his distress and embarrassment
had been before.

First he blew out a great breath, and mopped his forehead with a big
silk handkerchief; then, his honest face quite transformed with
happiness, he seized Cromartie by the hand, and then by the lapel, and
laughed again and again while he explained that he had opposed the
project with all his might because he was sure Cromartie would not like
it, and after he had been overruled he had not known how to break the
news to him. He vowed he had not slept for two nights thinking about it,
but now when he learnt that Cromartie actually approved of the plan, he
felt a new man. “I am the biggest fool in the world,” said he; “my
imagination runs away with me. I am always thinking of how other people
are going to be upset, and then it turns out that they don’t give a row
of pins about the whole affair and I am the only person who feels upset
at all ... all on account of somebody else.... Ha! Ha! Ha! It has been
just like that over and over again with my wife. It is always happening
to me. Well now I’ll go full blast ahead with the new ‘Man-house,’
because, you know, it’s a damned good notion. I felt that the whole
time, but I couldn’t get it out of my head that it was unfair to you.”

But Mr. Cromartie did not share his enthusiasm; he merely repeated to
himself, as he had done so often before, that he intended observing his
side of the contract so long as the Zoo kept its own, and that there was
nothing in all this which infringed or invalidated the contract in any
way. But when Mr. Cromartie went into his cage he saw a black man in the
cage next door--he was brushing a black bowler hat--it came as a great
shock to Mr. Cromartie to realise that this man was the neighbour about
whom the curator had spoken. This negro was almost coal black, a jovial
fellow, dressed in a striped pink and green shirt, a mustard-coloured
suit, and patent leather boots. When he saw Mr. Cromartie he at once
wheeled round, and saying “The interesting invalid has arrived,” walked
up to the partition separating him from Cromartie and said to him:
“Allow me to welcome you back to what is now the Man-house. If I may
introduce myself, Joe Tennison: I am delighted to meet you, Mr.
Cromartie, it is a real pleasure to have a man next door.” Cromartie
bowed stiffly and said “Good afternoon” very awkwardly, but the negro
was not abashed, and leaned against the wire partition between them so
that it bulged.

“They are going to clear all that poor trash away now,” he said,
pointing at the Chimpanzee beyond Cromartie. “They isn’t to be kept with
us any more, nasty jealous brutes; bite your fingers off if they catch
you.”

Cromartie turned and looked at the Chimpanzee; it had always seemed to
him rather a pathetic beast, but how much more so now while his new
neighbour Tennison was speaking of it! And not for the first time he
felt a friendly sympathy for the ugly little ape. Indeed he would far
rather have seen the savage old Orang back in her place than have this
insufferably verbose fellow patronising the animals near him.

For the moment Cromartie was quite at a loss, and had no idea what to
reply to the stream of Mr. Tennison’s remarks. He had said nothing at
all when a minute or two later he was relieved by the arrival of Collins
with his Caracal, which had been sent back to his old cage in the
cat-house after Mr. Cromartie’s injuries.

The pleasure of the two friends at once more being together was
unbounded, and was shown by each of them very strongly after his own
fashion. For at first the Caracal trotted up to Cromartie debonairly
enough, as if he were just come to give him a sniff, then he began
purring loudly and rubbed himself a score of times against Cromartie’s
legs, winding himself about them, and finally he sprang right up into
his friend’s arms, licked his face and his hair, and curled up for a
moment or two as if he would sleep there; but no, this was not for long,
for he sprang down again. Then he began trotting round the cage, sniffed
in the corners, leapt on the table and made certain that all was well.

When Joe Tennison called to him, the Caracal passed by without giving
him a glance, and it was just the same with his friend too, for when
Cromartie heard the negro begin talking to him he just nodded his head
and went into his inner room. But once there Mr. Cromartie reflected
that this negro was to be his companion and neighbour for some years,
and it would never do to run away from him every time he spoke. Somehow
he must make Tennison respect his privacy without making an enemy of
him, and at that moment Mr. Cromartie saw no way of doing this. However,
he took down a book of Waley’s poems translated from the Chinese, and
went back into his cage with it in his hand, and then sat down and began
reading.

    He lives in thick forests, deep among the hills,
    Or houses in the clefts of sharp, precipitous rocks;
    Alert and agile is his nature, nimble are his wits;
    Swift are his contortions,
    Apt to every need,
    Whether he climbs tall tree-stems of a hundred feet,
    Or sways on the shuddering shoulder of a long bough.
    Before him, the dark gullies of unfathomable streams;
    Behind, the silent hollows of the lonely hills.
    Twigs and tendrils are his rocking-chairs,
    On rungs of rotting wood he trips
    Up perilous places; sometimes, leap after leap,
    Like lightning flits through the woods.
    Sometimes he saunters with a sad, forsaken air;
    Then suddenly peeps round
    Beaming with satisfaction. Up he springs,
    Leaps and prances, whoops and scampers on his way.
    Up cliffs he scrambles, up pointed rocks,
    Dances on shale that shifts or twigs that snap,
    Suddenly swerves and lightly passes....
    Oh, what tongue could unravel
    The tale of all his tricks?
    Alas, one trait
    With the human tribe he shares; their sweets his sweet,
    Their bitter is his bitter. Off sugar from the vat
    Of brewers’ dregs he loves to sup.
    So men put wine where he will pass.
    How he races to the bowl!
    How nimbly licks and swills!
    Now he staggers, feels dazed and foolish,
    Darkness falls upon his eyes....
    He sleeps and knows no more.
    Up steal the trappers, catch him by the mane,
    Then to a string or ribbon tie him, lead him home;
    Tether him in the stable or lock him in the yard;
    Where faces all day long
    Gaze, gape, gasp at him and will not go away.

Joe Tennison came up three or four times while he was reading and began
a conversation, but Cromartie ignored his remarks and did not even lift
his head, but just read quietly on.

Fortunately there were a great many of the public come to see their old
favourite Mr. Cromartie now he was back, and to have a look at the new
black man also, about whom there was nearly as much discussion as there
ever had been about Cromartie himself.

The presence of the public was lucky for two reasons; firstly, it served
to distract Joe Tennison by giving him that which he most wanted in
life--an audience; and secondly, Mr. Cromartie was able, by totally
ignoring spectators, to show him that that was his ordinary method of
conducting himself. There was therefore no reason why the negro should
feel himself insulted by being treated as if he did not exist. And here
I should explain that Mr. Cromartie had no objection to his neighbour as
a negro, and no particular prejudice against persons of that colour. Mr.
Tennison was indeed the first negro to whom he had spoken. At the same
time the fellow aroused a strong feeling of dislike, and this aversion
was one which steadily increased as time went on.

The next day Mr. Cromartie found Josephine Lackett waiting for him when
he first went into his cage after breakfast. She was standing a little
distance off looking out of the door of the Ape-house (to give it its
old name), and Cromartie called out to her before he reflected on what
he was doing: “Josephine! Josephine! What are you doing there?”

She turned round and came towards him, and the sight of her so much
affected Mr. Cromartie that for some time he did not trust himself to
speak again, and when he did so it was more tenderly than he had done
since his captivity. But Josephine on her part could not for some time
get used to the presence of Mr. Tennison, who sat lolling in a deck
chair within a few feet of them and kept putting his gold-rimmed
eyeglass in his eye to stare at her, and then letting it fall out, as if
he had not quite learnt the trick of it, which was indeed the case, as
he had only bought it a week before.

For some little time then Josephine found herself with nothing to say
except to congratulate John on his recovery, and to tell him how glad
she was that he was well again. Then she thanked him for calling to her
and letting her speak to him.

“Don’t behave like a goose, Josephine,” said John Cromartie. Then
guessing why she was constrained, he said: “My dear Josephine, do ignore
him as I do.”

But Josephine did not speak, and just then in strolled the Caracal,
having just completed his morning toilet.

“I paid your cat several visits while you were ill,” said Josephine. “He
seemed very unhappy and would not take much notice of me. I think he is
rather shy of women, and is not used to them.”

Mr. Cromartie nodded. He was glad Josephine had gone to see the Caracal,
but he knew that she had wasted her time; he did not care for the people
who came and gazed into his cage from the outside. Suddenly he heard
Josephine say: “John, I must see you in private. I must talk to you,
because I cannot go on like this. You cannot go on shirking things any
longer.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that you must recognise that we are bound up with each other. I
don’t mind _what_ you decide to do, but you must do something. I cannot
go on living like this any longer. Please arrange somehow for us to see
each other and talk it over.”

It was Cromartie now who was embarrassed and shy; Cromartie who could
not talk simply about what he felt, at least not for a considerable
time. At last, however, he got out a few disconnected remarks, saying
he was very sorry but he could do nothing then, and that he was not a
free agent. But in the end he got more confidence and looked Josephine
straight in the eyes and said: “My dear, it’s quite inevitable that both
of us should be unhappy. I love you, if you want me to put it in that
way. I cannot ever forget you, and now you seem to be feeling the same
for me, and you too must expect to be very unhappy. I only hope your
feeling for me will wear off. I daresay it will in time, and I hope my
feeling for you will also. Until then we must try and be resigned.”

“I am not resigned,” said Josephine. “I’m going to get savage about it,
or go mad or something.”

“It’s the greatest mistake for us to stir up each other’s feelings,”
said Cromartie rather roughly. “That’s the worst thing we can either of
us do, the most unkind thing. No, the only thing for you to do is to
forget me, the only hope for me is to forget you.”

“That’s impossible; it’s worse when we don’t see each other,” said
Josephine.

Just then they realised that several people had come into the Ape-house
and were hesitating to interrupt their conversation.

“It’s a bad business,” said Cromartie, “a damned bad business,” and at
these words Josephine went away. He turned away and sat down, but a
moment later he heard a loud “Excuse me, Sah. Excuse an intrusion, but
I believe, Sah, that your young lady friend’s christian name is
Josephine. That is a remarkable coincidence! for my own name, you know,
is Joseph. Joseph and Josephine.”

If, on hearing this remark, Mr. Cromartie gave Tennison any
encouragement to continue, it was quite accidental. At the moment he was
feeling faint, and only by an effort of will continued standing where he
was without clutching hold of the bars.

“Are you interested in the girls?” asked the negro. “They come and watch
me all the morning, and they do stare so ... he, he, he.”

“No, I’m not interested,” said Mr. Cromartie. Nobody could have mistaken
the desperate sincerity in his voice.

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Tennison, at once restored to his former
heartiness and buoyancy of manner.

“That is how I feel myself, just how I feel. I have no interest in women
at all. Only my poor old mammy, my old black mammy, she was of the very
best, the very best she was. A mother is the best friend you have
through life--the best friend you can make. My mother was ignorant, she
could not read, neither could she write, but she knew almost all of the
whole Bible by heart, and I first learnt of Salvation from my mother’s
lips. When I was five years old she taught me the Holy Words of Glory,
and I repeated them after her text by text. She was the best friend I
shall ever have.

“But other women--no, sir. I have no use for them. They are just a
temptation in a man’s life, a temptation to make him forget his true
manhood. And the worst of it is that the more you shun them the more
they do run after you. That’s a fact.

“No, I am very much safer and better off here shut up alongside of you,
with this wire netting and bars to fence off the women, and I guess you
feel the same way as I do. Don’t you, Mr. Cromartie?” Cromartie suddenly
looked up and saw the person who had been addressing him.

“Who are you?” he asked, and then, looking rather wildly, he walked out
of his cage into his back room, where he lay down feeling very
exhausted.

He was still very weak from his illness, and the close atmosphere of the
Ape-house gave him a headache. Every moment he had now to exercise
self-control, and it was more and more exhausting for him to do so. Very
often he did what he did on this occasion, and this was to lie down to
rest in his back room and then burst into tears, quite without any
restraint, and though he laughed at himself afterwards, the act of
weeping comforted him, although it left him weaker than before and more
inclined to weep again.

But the pricks and troubles of the outside world meant very little to
Mr. Cromartie just then. He could not help thinking the whole time of
Josephine.

For so long he had believed that there were so many insuperable
obstacles which would prevent them ever being happy together, that the
additional fact of his being shut up in the Zoo was a relief to him.
But now that he felt so weak it was an extra strain, and especially now
as he was beginning to wonder if Josephine and he could not be happy
together for a little while.

He still knew that they were too proud to endure each other for very
long, but could they not have a week or a month or even a year of
happiness together?

Perhaps they might, but anyhow it wasn’t possible, and here he was
locked up in a cage, with a nigger waiting outside to talk some
disgusting trash at him and wear out his patience.

But as a matter of fact, when Cromartie pulled himself together once
more and went out into his cage Joe Tennison did not address him--that
is, not directly. But he was as tiresome as he had been before, but now
it was in a different way.

When Cromartie had settled down and had been reading for a little while,
there were no visitors for two or three minutes, and then he heard the
negro speaking to himself as he gazed in his direction.

“Poor fellow! Poor young fellow! The women do make hay with a man, they
do. I’ve been through it all.... I know all about it.... Oh, gracious,
yes. Love! Love is the very devil. And that poor young man is certainly
in love. Nobody can cheer him up. Nobody can do anything except her that
caused the trouble in his heart. There’s nothing I can do for him now
except just to pretend to notice nothing, the same as I always do.” At
this point the speaker was distracted by the arrival of a party of
visitors who stopped outside his cage, but thereafter Mr. Cromartie
adopted the same method to the negro that he had always adopted to the
public. That is to say, he ignored his existence and contrived never to
meet his eyes, and never took the least notice of what he said.

The next morning, while Cromartie was playing with his Caracal, with a
ball, as he had been accustomed to do before the Orang had taken
advantage of him, he heard Josephine’s voice calling to him.

He threw the ball to his friend the bounding, tasselled cat, and went
straight to her, and without waiting for any greeting she said to him:

“John, I love you, and I must see you alone at once. I must come into
your cage and talk to you there.”

“No, Josephine, don’t--that’s not possible,” said Cromartie. “I can’t go
on seeing you like this even, and surely you see that if you were to
come into my cage I could not bear it after you had gone away.”

“But I don’t want to go away,” said Josephine.

“If you were ever to come inside my cage you would have to stay for
ever,” said Cromartie. He had recovered himself now, his moment of
weakness was past. “And if you don’t decide to do that, I don’t think we
can go on seeing each other at all. I think I shall die if I see you
like this. We can never be happy together.”

“Well, we had better be unhappy together than unhappy apart,” said
Josephine. She had suddenly begun to cry.

“My darling creature,” said Cromartie, “it’s all a silly mistake; but we
will arrange things somehow. I’ll get the curator to have you in the
next cage to me instead of that damned nigger, and we shall see each
other all the time.”

Josephine shook her head vigorously to get the tears out of her eyes,
like a dog that has been swimming.

“No, that won’t do,” she declared angrily, “that won’t do at all. It has
got to be the same cage as yours or I won’t live in a cage at all. I
haven’t come here to live in a cage by myself. I’ll share yours and be
damned to everyone else.”

She gave an angry laugh and shook her yellow hair back. Her eyes
sparkled with tears, but she looked steadily at Cromartie. “Damn other
people,” she repeated; “I care for nobody in the world but you, John,
and if we are going to be put in a cage and persecuted, we must just
bear it. I hate them all, and I’m going to be happy with you in spite of
them. Nobody can make me feel ashamed now. I can’t help being myself and
I will be myself.”

“Darling,” said Cromartie, “you would be wretched here. It’s awful; you
mustn’t think of it. I have a much more sensible plan. I can’t ask them
to let me go. Anyhow I shan’t do that. But I am still so feeble that I
can easily make myself really ill again, and then I think they will let
me go and we can get married.”

“That won’t do,” said Josephine. “We can’t wait any longer, and you
would die if you tried that. There was nothing about your not being
allowed to marry in the contract when you came here, was there?” she
asked. “You have only got to tell them that you are going to get married
to-day, and that your wife is ready to live in your cage.”

During this conversation several people had come into the Ape-house, and
after looking at Josephine in a highly scandalised manner had gone out
again, but now Collins came in. He looked rather puzzled and awkward
when he saw Josephine, but she turned to him at once and said:

“Mr. Cromartie and I wish to see the curator; will you please find him
and ask him to come here?”

“Very good,” said Collins; then catching sight of Joe Tennison gazing at
Cromartie and the lady from a distance of three feet, with his yellow
eyeballs almost popping out of his sooty face, he sternly ordered him to
go into the back room of his cage.

“Oh, I can tell you something, I can tell you what you’ld never
believe,” cried Joe, but Collins silently pointed his finger at him, and
the nigger jumped up and slowly beat a retreat into his own quarters.

Ten minutes later the curator came in.

“Come round to the back where we can talk more conveniently, Miss
Lackett,” he said. Then he unlocked the door of the inner cage or den
and Josephine walked in. They sat down.

“I have asked Miss Lackett to marry me, and have been accepted,” said
Cromartie rather stiffly. “I was anxious to tell you at once, so as to
make arrangements with regard to the ceremony, which of course we wish
to be carried out as privately as possible, and at once. After our
marriage my wife is prepared to live with me in this cage, unless of
course you arrange for us to have other quarters.”

The curator suddenly laughed, a loud, good-natured, hearty laugh. To
Cromartie it seemed a piece of brutality, to Josephine a menace. They
both frowned, and drew slightly together waiting for the worst.

“I ought to explain to you,” the curator began, “that the committee has
already considered what to do in the event of such a contingency as this
occurring.

“It is impossible, for various reasons, for us to keep married couples
in the Man-house, and we decided that in the event of your mentioning
marriage, Mr. Cromartie, that we should consider our contract with you
at an end. In other words you are free to go, and in fact I am now going
to turn you out.”

As he said these words the curator rose and opened the door. For a
moment the happy couple hesitated; they looked at each other and then
walked out of the cage together, but Josephine kept hold of her man as
they did so. The curator slammed the door and locked it on the forgotten
Caracal, and then said:

“Cromartie, I congratulate you very heartily; and my dear Miss Lackett,
you have chosen a man for whom all of us here have the very greatest
respect and admiration. I hope you will be happy with him.”

Hand in hand Josephine and John hurried through the Gardens. They did
not stop to look at dogs or foxes, or wolves or tigers, they raced past
the lion house and the cattle sheds, and without glancing at the
pheasants or a lonely peacock, slipped through the turnstile into
Regent’s Park. There, still hand in hand, they passed unnoticed into the
crowd. Nobody looked at them, nobody recognised them. The crowd was
chiefly composed of couples like themselves.

                            [Illustration]


                                THE END

                            [Illustration]

                         The Westminster Press
                           411a Harrow Road
                              London, W.9



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