Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Visit To Jamrach
by [?]

There is an old and true saying–“Everything comes to him who waits.” I thought of this saying while on my way to visit the well-known place near the London Docks where Mr. Jamrach is supposed to keep almost every rare animal, bird, and reptile, ready to supply the wants of all customers at a moment’s notice. For many long years I had wished to pay him a visit, but ill-health and other causes had proved a hindrance and I could hardly believe my wish was going to be realized when I found myself on the way to his menagerie. After driving through a labyrinth of narrow, dirty streets, we were at last obliged to get out and walk till we came to the shop, and then we did indeed find ourselves in the midst of “animated nature.” We had landed amongst the cockatoos, macaws, and parrots, and they greeted our arrival with such a chorus of shrieks, screams, and hideous cries that my first desire was to rush away anywhere out of the reach of such ear-piercing sounds. One had to bear it, however, if the curious creatures in the various cages were to be examined, and after a time the uproar grew less, and I could hear a word or two from Mr. Jamrach, who called my attention to some armadillos, huge armour-plated animals, very curious, but somehow not attractive as pets; one could not fondle a thing composed of metal plates, shaped like a pig, with a tendency to roll itself up into a ball on the slightest provocation, and even Mr. Jamrach’s argument that if I got tired of it as a pet I could have it cooked, as they were excellent eating, failed to lead me to a purchase. There was a fine, healthy toucan, with his marvellous bill, looking sadly out of place in a small cage in such a dingy place. Did he ever think of his tropical forest home, I wondered, and wish himself in happier surroundings? A long wooden box with wire front contained rows and rows of Grass Parrakeets: many hundreds must have been on those perches, one behind the other, poor little patient birdies, sitting in solemn silence, never moving an inch, for they were wedged in as closely as they could sit and how they could eat and live seemed a mystery. As I was in quest of some small rodents I was asked to follow Mr. Jamrach to another place where the animals were kept. We came to a back yard with dens and cages containing all kinds of tenants, from fierce hyenas and wolves to tame deer, monkeys, cats, and dogs. A chorus of yelps and barks and growls sounded a little uninviting, and a caution from Jamrach, to mind the camel did not seize my young friend’s hat, made us aware of a stately form gazing down upon us from a recess we had not before noticed. Every nook and corner seemed occupied, and in order to see a kangaroo rat I was invited up a rickety ladder into a loft where a Japanese cat, a large monkey, and sundry other creatures lived. I did not take to the kangaroo rat, he was too large and formidable to be pleasant, and was by no means tame, but to be pulled out of the cage by his long tail was, I confess, enough to scare the mildest quadruped. At length I was shown some Peruvian guinea-pigs. Wonderful little creatures! With hair three or four inches long, white, yellow and black, set on anyhow, sticking out in odd tufts, one side of their heads white and the other black, their eyes just like boot buttons, they were captivating; and a pair had to be chosen forthwith, and packed in a basket with a tortoise and a huge Egyptian lizard, and with these spoils I was not sorry to leave this place of varied noises and smells. The lizard was about fourteen inches long, a really grand creature. He came from the ruins of ancient Egypt, and looked in his calm stateliness as though he might have gazed upon the Pharaohs themselves. When placed in the sun for a time he would sometimes deign to move a few inches, his massive, grey, scaly body looking very like a young crocodile. I was greatly teased about my fondness for “Rameses,” as I called this new and majestic pet; there was a great fascination about him, and as I really wished to know more of his ways and habits, I carried the basket in which he lived everywhere with me indoors and out, and studied all possible ways of feeding him; but alas! nothing would induce him to eat. After gazing for five minutes at the most tempting mealworm, he would at last raise up his mighty head and appear to be revolving great ideas to which mealworms and all sublunary things must give place. Jamrach told me that the lizard would drink milk, so a saucerful was placed before him, and once he did drink a few drops, but generally he walked into and over the saucer as if it did not exist.