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Lepas’s Revenge (The Tale Of A Monkey)
by [?]

There were many monkeys–I came near saying there were hundreds–in the little clump of jungle trees back of the bungalow. We could lie in our long chairs, any afternoon, when the sun was on the opposite side of the house, and watch them from behind the bamboo “chicks” swinging and playing in the maze of rubber-vines.

They played tag and high-spy, and a variety of other games. When they were tired of playing, they fell to quarrelling, scolding, and chasing each other among the stiff, varnished leaves, making so much noise that I could not get my afternoon nap, and often had to call to the syce to throw a stone into the branches. Then they would scuttle away to the topmost parts of the great trees and there join in giving me a rating that ought to have made me ashamed forever to look another monkey in the face.

One day, I went out and threw a stick at them myself, and the next day I found my shoes, which the Chinese “boy” had pipe-clayed and put out in the sun to dry, missing; and the day after I found the netting of my mosquito house torn from top to bottom.

So I was not in the best of humors when I was awakened, one afternoon, by the whistling of a monkey close to my chair. I reached out quickly for my cork helmet which I had thrown down by my side. As it was there, I looked up in surprise to see what had become of my visitor.

There he sat up against the railing of the veranda with his legs cramped up under him, ready to flee if I made a threatening gesture. His face was turned toward me, with the thin, hairless skin of its upper lip drawn back, showing a perfect row of milk-white teeth that were chattering in deadly terror. The whole expression of his face was one of conciliation and entreaty.

I knew that it was all make-believe, so I half closed my eyes and did not move. The chattering stopped. The little fellow looked about curiously, drew his mouth up into a pucker, whistled once or twice to make sure I was not awake, and reached out his bony arm for a few crumbs of cake that had fallen near.

He was not more than a foot in height. His diminutive body seemed to have been fitted into a badly worn skin that was two sizes too large for him, and the scalp of his forehead moved about like an overgrown wig.

He was the most ordinary kind of gray, jungle monkey, not even a wah-wah or spider face.

“Well,” I said, after we had thoroughly inspected each other, “where are my shoes?”

Like a flash the whistling ceased, and with a pathetic trembling of his thin upper lip he commenced to beg with his mouth, and to put up his homely little hands in mute appeal.

For a moment I feared he would go into convulsions, but I soon discovered that my sympathy, had been wasted.

Then I noticed, for the first time, that there was a leather strap around his body just in front of his back legs, and that a string was attached to it, which ran through the railings and off the veranda. I looked over, and there, squatting on his sandalled feet, was a Malay, with the other end of the string in his hand.

He arose, smiling, touched his forehead with the back of his brown palm, and asked blandly:–

“Tuan, want to buy?”

The calm assurance of the man amused me.

“What, that miserable little monkey?” I said. “Do you take me for a tourist? Look up in those trees and you will see monkeys that know boiled rice from padi.”

The man grinned and showed his brilliantly red teeth and gums.

“Tuan see. This monkey very wise,” and he made a motion with his stick. The little fellow sprang from the railing to his bare head, and sat holding on to his long black hair.