"You sell-a de a monk-a?"
"Twenty -five dollars."
"Diavolo! Twenty-five-a peasters! Me-a give you a seven doll-a! You rob a poor Itala!
No, no. Eight doll-a. Hey?"
"No, sir. Twenty-five dollars or nothing. You can't dicker with me. I have only one
price for my animals."
The speakers were Guiseppe Falieri, an Italian who had recently arrived in this city, and
Mr. Reiche, the animal importer of New York. The Italian was one of those fortunate sons
of Italy who arrive in this country with a little money. Among the poorer classes of
Italians, those who immigrate to this country with just enough money to pay for their
passage hare out as laborers on railroads, aqueducts, and so forth. Those who have a
little more money buy a push cart, or a peanut stand. But the Italian who is fortunate
enough to possess $100 invests in a hand organ and a ring tailed monkey. The purchase of
this outfit is a serious undertaking to the man interested. He consults all his friends
and asks their advice, especially in the selection of the monkey.
Almost every day a dozen of this class of Italians come in to the animal store to purchase
one monkey. Guiseppe Falieri was one of these. He examined fifteen monkeys, one of which
has too large a head to suit him. Another's teeth were imperfect. Fourteen were worthless
to his eyes for the purpose for which he intended them, but the fifteenth was a bright
intelligent little animal and he coveted it with eagerness. Finding that Mr. Reiche was
determined not to lower his price, Guiseppe turned his attention to Mr. O'Toole, the
chimpanzee. Said he:
"How mooch-a de big monk-a?"
"One thousand dollars."
Holding up his hands in dismay Guiseppe looked about him in a bewildered way. He tried to
secure a "ring-a-tail-a-monk" for $10, and being unsuccessful sadly left the
store. Mr. Reiche explained to the reporter that his absence was only temporary, as
he was sure to return and secure the animal upon which he has set his heart.
"There has not been so large a demand for the little hand organ monkeys," said
Mr. Reiche, "since the Common Council of New York refused to issue licenses to the
Italians two years ago. Previous to that time we used to sell as many as two hundred and
fifty ring-tailed monkeys each year to the organ grinders. This kind of monkey comes from
South America, principally from Brazil. They are shipped in lots of twenty-five. They are
classed by the trade as the Crown or Capuchin variety. Why the Italians prefer this
species is a matter of conjecture, as there are many other kinds which would answer the
purpose equally as well. The ring-tail, however, is very quick of perception, and learns
rapidly. As the interdiction of monkeys has not extended beyond the corporate limits of
New York, the organ grinder who has a tamed monkey is obliged to exhibit it in the country
towns in the vicinity, although he sometimes makes long journeys with his little companion
perched upon his organ. When a poor Italian buys a monkey the act is regarded as one of
the most important of his career. It is as if he were about to adopt a child.
Here the narrator was interrupted by the entrance of a dozen Italians, headed by Guiseppe.
There was a woman in the company who held a baby in her arms. The monkey which had pleased
Guiseppe so much an hour previously was taken from its cage and passed from hand to hand.
It made an interesting picture. The whole party looked as grave as if it were a question
of life or death. An animated dispute arose about the merits of the little animal, which
Guiseppe abruptly ended by taking a leather purse from his pocket and paying for the
monkey in gold. With much showing of white teeth and many smiles, the party went out into
Park Row, while proud Guiseppe hid the monkey under his coat and lingered behind to
whisper confidentially as if it were a state secret:
"Name-a de monk, Mateo."
"I am always foolish enough to feel a trifle sorry for the poor little monkeys when
they are sold," resumed Mr. Reiche, when the door had closed. "Why? Because
while in their native forest they roam at will through the trees and have any amount of
fun; but once in the possession of the organ grinder and life is real, life is earnest for
the 'ring-tail-a monk-a.' Take Mateo, for instance, as Guiseppe has already christened
him. His education will begin today, no doubt, to fit him for the serious work of
gathering pennies for his master instead of berries for himself. Mateo and his master will
eat and sleep together for many years, probably, as the ring-tail is a very hardy monkey.
This companionship undoubtedly facilitates the training process considerably."
"Is the monkey trained by the use of kindness or fear?" said the reporter.
"Both," was the reply. "If the monkey is wild and ugly, the first thing to
be done is to take all the fright out of it. To attain this result hunger is the Italian's
first resource. The better and more humane method, however, and the one giving the best
and most permanent results is to break the monkey's spirit by rendering it entirely
helpless and unable to harm or resist. This is done with the help of ropes and gags. In
this condition the...
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