PART IV--A VOYAGE TO THE COUNTRY OF THE HOUYHNHNMS.
8. CHAPTER VIII.
By what I could discover, the Yahoos appear to be the most
unteachable of all animals: their capacity never reaching higher
than to draw or carry burdens. Yet I am of opinion, this defect
arises chiefly from a perverse, restive disposition; for they are
cunning, malicious, treacherous, and revengeful. They are strong
and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and, by consequence, insolent,
abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red haired of both
sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet
they much exceed in strength and activity.
The Houyhnhnms keep the Yahoos for present use in huts not far from
the house; but the rest are sent abroad to certain fields, where
they dig up roots, eat several kinds of herbs, and search about for
carrion, or sometimes catch weasels and luhimuhs (a sort of wild
rat), which they greedily devour. Nature has taught them to dig
deep holes with their nails on the side of a rising ground, wherein
they lie by themselves; only the kennels of the females are larger,
sufficient to hold two or three cubs.
They swim from their infancy like frogs, and are able to continue
long under water, where they often take fish, which the females
carry home to their young. And, upon this occasion, I hope the
reader will pardon my relating an odd adventure.
Being one day abroad with my protector the sorrel nag, and the
weather exceeding hot, I entreated him to let me bathe in a river
that was near. He consented, and I immediately stripped myself
stark naked, and went down softly into the stream. It happened
that a young female Yahoo, standing behind a bank, saw the whole
proceeding, and inflamed by desire, as the nag and I conjectured,
came running with all speed, and leaped into the water, within five
yards of the place where I bathed. I was never in my life so
terribly frightened. The nag was grazing at some distance, not
suspecting any harm. She embraced me after a most fulsome manner.
I roared as loud as I could, and the nag came galloping towards me,
whereupon she quitted her grasp, with the utmost reluctancy, and
leaped upon the opposite bank, where she stood gazing and howling
all the time I was putting on my clothes.