A couple of days ago I posted a snippet of Alexandre Dumas pere's memoir, My Pets. At the time I thought I'd continue on the subject of his dogs, but what really caught me was this little vignette from Chapter XIII of how he acquired two unusual creatures:
* * *
Mademoiselle Desgarcins was a dog-faced monkey, and one of the tiniest of her species. Her birthplace was unknown; but, if we are to trust to Cuvier's classification, she must have seen the light somewhere on the old continent.
The way I became her possessor was quite simple and ordinary.
I had been to pay a visit to Havre. With what object ? Upon my word ! I can hardly say—perhaps it was to have a look at the sea. Once there, I had immediately been seized with the wish to be back in Paris.
But it was out of the question to return quite empty-handed. The only point to be decided was what I should take back with me from that seaport.
I had a wide range of choice—ivory toys from China, fans from the Far East, weapons and trophies from the South Sea Islands, and a hundred other curios. But none of these articles quite took my fancy.
I was strolling along the quay, as melancholy as the fantastic Dane of Shakespeare's immortal play, when I caught sight, at the door of a dealer in animals, of a green monkey and a blue macaw.
The monkey had put her little hand out between the bars of her cage and caught hold of my coat-tail.
The blue parrot was twisting its head about and gazing amorously at me out of its yellow eye, the pupil of which kept narrowing and dilating with the tenderest of tender expressions.
I am very amenable to demonstrations of the kind, and those of my friends who know me best declare that, for my own good name and my family's, it is a very lucky thing I was not born a woman.
I stopped therefore, pressing the monkey's paw in one hand, and gently scratching the macaw's head with the other, at the risk of meeting the same fate as Colonel Bro with his parrot. See my Memoirs.
But nothing of the sort occurred. Instead, the little monkey drew my hand gently to her mouth, put out her tongue through the bars and licked my fingers lovingly.
* * *
You can read the rest in Chapter XIII, "How I Was Over-Persuaded to Buy a Green Monkey and a Blue Macaw," in Alexandre Dumas, translated posthumously, My Pets (Alfred Allinson, trans. London: Methuen & Co., 1909)