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29. CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE VALLEY--GOLDEN LIZARDS--TAMENESS OF THE BIRDS--MOSQUITOES--FLIES--DOGS--A SOLITARY CAT--THE CLIMATE--THE COCOANUT TREE--SINGULAR MODES OF CLIMBING IT--AN AGILE YOUNG CHIEF--FEARLESSNESS OF THE CHILDREN--TOO-TOO AND THE COCOANUT TREE--THE BIRDS OF THE VALLEY
I THINK I must enlighten the reader a little about the natural history of the valley.
Whence, in the name of Count Buffon and Baron Cuvier, came those dogs that I saw in Typee? Dogs!--Big hairless rats rather; all with smooth, shining speckled hides--fat sides, and very disagreeable faces. Whence could they have come? That they were not the indigenous production of the region, I am firmly convinced. Indeed they seemed aware of their being interlopers, looking fairly ashamed, and always trying to hide themselves in some dark corner. It was plain enough they did not feel at home in the vale--that they wished themselves well out of it, and back to the ugly country from which they must have come.
Scurvy curs! they were my abhorrence; I should have liked nothing better than to have been the death of every one of them. In fact, on one occasion, I intimated the propriety of a canine crusade to Mehevi; but the benevolent king would not consent to it. He heard me very patiently; but when I had finished, shook his head, and told me in confidence that they were 'taboo'.
As for the animal that made the fortune of the ex-lord-mayor Whittington, I shall never forget the day that I was lying in the house about noon, everybody else being fast asleep; and happening to raise my eyes, met those of a big black spectral cat, which sat erect in the doorway, looking at me with its frightful goggling green orbs, like one of those monstrous imps that torment some of Teniers' saints! I am one of those unfortunate persons to whom the sight of these animals are, at any time an insufferable annoyance.
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