« AnkstesnisTęsti »
her method of attack, why has not the us; if she retires safe and sound, it is Segestria perfected her method of de- because the spider does not use her fense? Is it possible that century up- fangs. What we see is a sort of truce, on century should have modified the tacit convention forbidding deadly one to its advantage without succeeding strokes, or rather the demoralization in modifying the other? Here I am due to captivity; and the two adverutterly at a loss, and I say to myself, saries are no longer in a sufficiently in all simplicity, since the Pompili must warlike mood to make play with their have spiders, the former have possessed daggers. The tranquillity of the Pomtheir patient cunning and the other pilus, who keeps on jauntily curling her their foolish audacity from all time. antennæ in the face of the Segestria, reasThis may be puerile, if you like to think sures me as to my prisoner's fate; for it so, and not in keeping with the greater security, however, I throw her transcendental aims of our fashionable a scrap of paper, in the folds of which theorists. The argument contains she will find a refuge during the night. neither the subjective nor the objective She stalls herself there, out of the point of view; neither adaptation nor spider's reach. Next morning I find differentiation; neither atavism nor evo- her dead. During the night the Segeslution. Very well; but at least I under- tria, whose habits are nocturnal, has stand it.
recovered her daring and stabbed her Let us return to the habits of Pom- enemy. I had my suspicions that the pilus apicalis. Without expecting re- parts played might be reversed! The sults of any particular interest, for in butcher of yesterday is the victim of captivity the respective talents of the to-day. huntress and the quarry seem to slum- I replace the Pompilus by a hive-bee. ber, I place together, in a wide jar, a The interview is not protracted. Two wasp and a Segestria. The spider and hours later the bee is dead, bitten by the her enemy mutually avoid each other, spider. A drone-fly suffers the same both being equally timid. A judicious fate. The Segestria,
fate. The Segestria, however, does shake or two brings them into contact. not touch either of the two corpses any The Segestria, from time to time, catches more than she touched the corpse of the hold of the Pompilus, who gathers Pompilus. In these murders the captive herself up as best she can, without at- seems to have no other object than to tempting to use her sting; the spider rid herself of a turbulent neighbor. rolls the insect between her legs and When appetite awakes, perhaps the even between her mandibles, but ap- victims will be turned to account. They pears to dislike doing it. Once I see were not, and the fault was mine. I her lie on her back and hold the Pom- placed in the jar a bumblebee of average pilus above her, as far away as possible, size. A day later the spider was dead; while turning her over in her fore legs the rude sharer of her captivity had done and munching at her with her mandibles. the deed. The wasp, whether by her own adroit- Let us say no more of these unequal ness or owing to the spider's dread of duels in the glass prison and complete her, promptly escapes from the terrible the story of the Pompilus, whom we left fangs, moves to a short distance, and with the paralyzed Segestria at the foot does not seem to trouble unduly about of the wall. She abandons her prey on the buffeting which she has received. the ground and returns to the wall. She quietly polishes her wings and curls She visits the spiders' funnels one by her antennæ by pulling them while one, walking on them as freely as on standing on them with her fore tarsi. the stones; she inspects the silken tubes, The attack of the Segestria, stimulated plunging her antennæ into them, soundby my shakes, is repeated ten times ing and exploring them; she enters withover; and the Pompilus always escapes out the least hesitation. Whence does from the venomous fangs unscathed, as she now derive the temerity thus to though she were invulnerable.
enter the spiders' lairs? Only a little Is she really invulnerable? By no •while ago she was displaying extreme means, as we shall soon have proved to caution; at this moment she seems heedless of danger. The fact is that the difficulties of an ascent which did there is really no danger. The wasp is not allow her to see it. The Pompilus inspecting uninhabited houses. When lays her prey on it. The silken tube she dives down a silken tunnel, she which she inspected so lovingly is only very well knows that there is no one in; some eight inches distant. She goes for, had the Segestria been there, she to it, examines it rapidly, and returns would by this time have appeared on the to the spider, whom she at length lowers threshold. The fact that the house- down the tube. holder does not show herself at the first Shortly afterward I see her come out vibration of the neighboring threads is a again. She searches here and there certain proof that the tube is vacant; on the wall for a few scraps of mortar, and the Pompilus enters in full security. two or three fairly large pieces, which I shall recommend future observers not she carries to the tube, to close it up. to take the present investigations for The task is done. She flies away. hunting tactics. I have already re- Next day I inspect this strange burmarked, and I repeat, the Pompilus row. The spider is at the bottom of never enters the silken ambush while the silken tube, isolated on every side, the spider is there.
as though in a hammock. The wasp's Among the funnels inspected, one ap- egg is glued not to the ventral surface pears to suit her better than the others; of the victim, but to the back, about she returns to it frequently in the course the middle, near the beginning of the of her investigations, which last for abdomen. It is white, cylindrical, and nearly an hour. From time to time she about a twelfth of an inch long. The hastens back to the spider lying on the few scraps of mortar which I saw carried ground. She examines her, tugs at her, have but very roughly cut off the silken drags her a little closer to the wall, then chamber at the end. Thus Pompilus leaves her the better to reconnoiter the apicalis lays her quarry and her eggs not tunnel which is the object of her pref- in a burrow of her own making, but in erence. Lastly, she returns to the the spider's actual house. Perhaps the Segestria and takes her by the tip of silken tube belongs to this very victim, the abdomen. The quarry is so heavy which in that event provides both board that she has great difficulty in moving and lodging. What a shelter for the it along the level ground. Two inches larva of this Pompilus, the warm retreat divide it from the wall. She gets to the and downy hammock of the Segestria! wall, but not without effort; neverthe- Here, then, already, we have two less, once the wall is reached, the job is spider-huntresses, the Winged Pompilus quickly done. We learn that Antæus, and Pompilus apicalis, who, unversed the son of Mother Earth, in his struggle in the miner's craft, establish their with Hercules, received new strength as offspring inexpensively in accidental often as his feet touched the ground; chinks in the walls, or even in the lair of the Pompilus, daughter of the wall, the spider on which the larva feeds. seems to increase her powers tenfold In these cells, acquired without exertion, once she has set foot on the masonry. they build only an attempt at a wall
For here the wasp hoists her prey with a few fragments of mortar. But backward, her enormous prey, which we must beware of generalizing about dangles beneath her. She climbs now this expeditious method of establishup a vertical plane, now a slope, ac- ment. Other Pompili are true diggers, cording to the uneven surface of the who valiantly sink a burrow in the soil stones. She crosses gaps where she to a depth of a couple of inches. These has to go belly uppermost, while the include the Eight-spotted Pompilus quarry swings to and fro in the air. (Pompilus octopunctatus, Panz.), with Nothing stops her; she keeps on climb- her black-and-yellow livery and her ing, to a height of six feet or more, with- amber wings, a little darker at the tips. out selecting her path, without seeing For her game she chooses the Epeira her goal, since she goes backward. Here (E. fasciata, E. serica), those garden is a lodge, no doubt reconnoitered · spiders, magnificently adorned, who lie beforehand and now reached, despite in wait at the center of their webs.
“Daily, as he sat by the window, he approached nearer to that center of cosmic life where outward activity counts for less than the shadow of nothing. Daily he felt the tide rise in his secret self, trying to blend with the essence of eternity.”
T was now the custom of priceless pieces of Chinese porcelain,
Li Ping-Yeng, the wealthy blue-and-white Ming and Kang-he retired banker, to sit near beakers in aubergine and oxen-blood, the open window and look crackled clair-de-lune of the dynasty of
up at the sky, which Sung, peachblow celadon, Corean Fo seemed always to be packed with dirty dogs and Fong-hoang emblems in ashclouds, or down into Pell Street, toward gray and apple-green. the corner, where it streams into the This was the room, these were the Bowery in frothy, brutal, yellow-and- treasures, which years ago he had prewhite streaks. Occasionally, huddled
Occasionally, huddled pared with loving, meticulous care for snug and warm in a fold of his loose the coming of his bride. sleeve, a diminutive, flat-faced Pekinese She had come, stepping mincingly on spaniel, with convex, nostalgic eyes and tiny bound feet, “skimming,” had said a sniffly button of a nose, would give a an impromptu Pell Street poet who had weak and rather ineffectual bark. cut his rice gin with too much heady Then, startled, yet smiling, Li Ping-Yeng whompee juice, “over the tops of golden would rise and go down-stairs to the lilies, like Yao Niang, the iron-capped Great Shanghai Chop Suey Palace in Manchu prince's famous concubine." search of food.
But almost immediately—the tragTo do this, he had to cross his apart- edy had not loomed very large in the ment.
morning news, starting with a crude Fretted with shifting lights, it lay in head-line of "Woman Killed in Street dim, scented splendor. Underfoot by Car on Wrong Side,” and winding stretched a thick-napped dragon rug of up with “The Chauffeur, Edward H. tawny orange and taupe, picked out Connor, of No. 1267 East 157th Street, with rose-red and brown. Age-dark- was held at the West 68th Street Staened tulip-wood furniture faded into tion on a charge of homicide"—her the corners, where the shadows drooped body had passed into the eternal twiand coiled. The door of the outer hall light, her soul had leaped the dragon was hidden by a great, ebony-framed gate to join the souls of her ancestors. screen of pale lotus silk embroidered And to-day Li Ping-Yeng, in the lees with conventionalized figures, black of life, was indifferent to the splendors and purple and maroon, that repre- of Ming and Sung, of broidered silks sented the “Hei-song-che-choo,” the and carved tulip-wood. To-day there "Genii of the Ink," household gods of was only the searching for his personal the literati; while here and there, on tao, his inner consciousness removed table and taboret and étagère, were from the lying shackles of love and
hate, the drab fastenings of form and substance and reality.
Daily, as he sat by the window, he approached nearer to that center of cosmic life where outward activity counts for less than the shadow of nothing. Daily he felt the tide rise in his secret self, trying to blend with the essence of eternity. Daily, beyond the dirty clouds of lower Manhattan, beyond the Pell Street reek of sewer-gas and opium and yellow man and white, he caught a little more firmly at the fringe of final fulfilment.
Food? Yes. There was still the lying reality called body which needed food and drink and occasionally a crimson-tasseled pipe filled with a sizzling, amber cube of first-chop opium. Also, there was the little Pekinese spaniel that had once belonged to his bride, "Su Chang," "Reverential and Sedate," was its ludicrous name,—and it cared nothing for tao and cosmic eternity, but a great deal for sugar and chicken bones and bread steeped in lukewarm milk.
"Woo-ooff!" said "Reverential and Sedate."
And so, startled, yet smiling, Li Ping-Yeng went down-stairs to the Great Shanghai Chop Suey Palace, exchanged courtly greetings with the obese proprietor, Mr. Nag Hong Fah, and ordered a heaped bowl for the spaniel, and for himself a platter of rice, a pinch of soey cheese, a slice of preserved ginger stem, and a pot of tea.
Twenty minutes later he was back in his chair near the window, scrutinizing sky and street.
Unseeing, meaningless scrutiny; for it was only the conscious, thus worthless, part of his brain which perceived, and reacted to, the details of what he saw: the lemon tints of the street lamps leaping meanly out of the trailing, sooty dusk and centering on a vivid oblong of scarlet and gold where Yung Long, the wholesale grocer, flung his sign-board to the winds and proclaimed thereon in archaic Mandarin script that "Trade revolves like a Wheel"; an automobileload of tourists gloating self-righteously over the bland, shuffling Mongol's base infinitudes; a whisky-soaked non
descript moving along with hound-like stoop and flopping, ragged clothes, his face turned blindly to the stars and a childlike smile curling his lips; or, perhaps, hugging the blotchy shadows of a postern, the tiny figure of Wuh Wang, the wife of Li Hsü, the hatchet-man, courting a particularly shocking fate by talking, face close against face, to a youth, with a checked suit and no forehead to speak of, whose native habitat was around the corner, on the Bowery.
Also voices brushed up, splintered through the open window, the stammering gurgling staccato of felt-slippered Cantonese, suggestive of a primitive utterance going back to the days before speech had evolved; the metallic snap and crackle of Sicilians and Calabrians talking dramatically about the price of garlic and olive-oil; the jovial brogue of Bill Devoy, detective of Second Branch, telling a licenseless peddler to "beat it"; the unbearable, guttural, belching whine of Russian Hebrews, the Pell Street symphony, with the blazing roar of the elevated thumping a dissonant counterpoint in the distance.
Li Ping-Yeng saw, he heard, but only with the conscious, the worthless part of his brain; while the real part, the subconscious, was occupied with the realization of himself which he must master in order to reach the excellent and august wisdom of tao-the search of his inner soul, beyond the good and the evil, which, belike, he had muddied by his too great love for his wife.
This tao was still too dim for him to see face to face. It was still beyond the touch and feel of definite thought. Its very possibility faded elusively when he tried to bring it to a focus. Yet he knew well what had been the basis of it. He had learned it by the bitterest test of which the human heart is capable the negative test; the test of suffering and unfulfilled desire; the test of acrid memory. "Memory," he would say to himself, over and over again, patiently, defiantly, almost belligerently, when the thought of his wife's narrow, pleasurable hands rose flush with the tide of his regrets and, by the same token, caused his tao once
more to dim and fade-“memory, which Thus the judgment of the whites; is of the dirt-clouted body, and not of and it was further crystallized in detecthe soul.”
tive Bill Devoy's rather more brutal: Yet in the matter of acrid
memory and "Say, them Chinks has got about as unfulfilled desire Miss Edith Rutter, the much feelings as a snake has hips.
a social-settlement investigator who spe- No noives—no noives at all, see?” and cialized in the gliding vagaries of the Mr. Brian Neill, the Bowery saloonMongol mind as exemplified in Pell keeper's succinct: “Sure, Mike. I hates Street, had brought back at the time an all them yeller swine. They gives me entirely different tale, an entirely dif- the bloody creeps." ferent interpretation of Chinese phi- Still, it is a moot point who is right, losophy, too.
the Oriental, to whom love is less a But be it remembered that phi- sweeping passion than the result of a losophy is somewhat affected by sur- delicate, personal balancing on roundings, and that Miss Rutter had scales of fate, or the Occidental, to been on a visit to an aunt of hers in whom love is a hectic, unthinking Albany, balancing a Jasper ware tea-cup ecstasy, though, given his racial inhiand cake-plate on a scrawny, black- bitions, often canopied in the gilt bucktaffeta-covered knee, and, about her, ram of stiffy emotional sex-romanticism. tired, threadbare furnishings that At all events, even the humblest, harped back to the days of rep curtains, earthiest coolie between Pell and Mott horsehair chaise-longues, wax fruit, shell had understood when, the day after ornaments, banjo clocks, pictures of his wife's death, Li Ping-Yeng had unlikely children playing with improb- turned to the assembled company in the able dogs, cases of polished cornelian, back room of the Great Shanghai Chop levant-bound sets of Quida, and un- Suey Palace, which was for yellow men flinching, uncompromising Protestant only and bore the euphonic appellaChristianity.
tion, “The Honorable Pavilion of Tran“My dear,” she had said to Aunt quil Longevity,” and had said: Eliza Jane, “the more I see of these “The ancients are right. One must Chinamen, the less I understand them. preserve a proper balance in all emoThis man I told you about, Mr. Li tions. The man who, being selfish, Ping-Yeng-oh, a most charming, cul- loves too much, is even as the one who tured gentleman, I assure you, with cooks the dregs of wretched rice over a such grand manners!—I saw him a few sandalwood fire in a pot of lapis lazuli, minutes after they brought home the or as one who uses a golden plow in poor crushed little body of his young preparation for cultivating weeds, or bride, his two days' bride, and, my dear, as one who cuts down a precious cam-would you believe it possible?—there phor-grove to fence in a field of coarse was n't a tear in his eyes, his hands millet. Such a man is the enemy of did n't even tremble. And when I his own tao. It is most proper that such spoke to him, tactful, gentle, consoling a man should be punished.” words, what do you imagine he replied?" After a pause he had added: “I've no idea."
“I am such a man, brothers. I have "He smiled! Yes, indeed, smiled! been punished. I tied my soul and my And he said something-I forget the heart to a woman's jeweled ear-rings. exact words-about his having, per- The ear-rings broke. The woman died. haps, loved too much, his having per- Died my heart and my soul. And now, haps been untrue to his inner self. I where shall I find them again? Where can't understand their philosophy. It shall I go to seek for my tao?” is-oh-so inhuman!" She had puzzled. "How can anybody love too THERE had come a thick pall of silence, much? What can he have meant by with only the angry sizzling of opium his ‘inner self'?"
cubes as lean, yellow hands held them “Pah! heathens!” Aunt Eliza Jane above the openings of the tiny lamps; had commented resolutely. "Have a sucking of boiling-hot tea sipped by another cup of tea?”
compressed lips; somewhere, outside,