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her method of attack, why has not the Segestria perfected her method of defense? Is it possible that century upon century should have modified the one to its advantage without succeeding in modifying the other? Here I am utterly at a loss, and I say to myself, in all simplicity, since the Pompili must have spiders, the former have possessed their patient cunning and the other their foolish audacity from all time. This may be puerile, if you like to think it so, and not in keeping with the transcendental aims of our fashionable theorists. The argument contains neither the subjective nor the objective point of view; neither adaptation nor differentiation; neither atavism nor evolution. Very well; but at least I understand it.
Let us return to the habits of Pompilus apicalis. Without expecting results of any particular interest, for in captivity the respective talents of the huntress and the quarry seem to slumber, I place together, in a wide jar, a wasp and a Segestria. The spider and her enemy mutually avoid each other, both being equally timid. A judicious shake or two brings them into contact. The Segestria, from time to time, catches hold of the Pompilus, who gathers herself up as best she can, without attempting to use her sting; the spider rolls the insect between her legs and even between her mandibles, but appears to dislike doing it. Once I see her lie on her back and hold the Pompilus above her, as far away as possible, while turning her over in her fore legs and munching at her with her mandibles. The wasp, whether by her own adroitness or owing to the spider's dread of her, promptly escapes from the terrible fangs; moves to a short distance, and does not seem to trouble unduly about the buffeting which she has received. She quietly polishes her wings and curls her antennæ by pulling them while standing on them with her fore tarsi. The attack of the Segestria, stimulated by my shakes, is repeated ten times over; and the Pompilus always escapes from the venomous fangs unscathed, as though she were invulnerable.
Is she really invulnerable? By no means, as we shall soon have proved to
us; if she retires safe and sound, it is because the spider does not use her fangs. What we see is a sort of truce, a tacit convention forbidding deadly strokes, or rather the demoralization due to captivity; and the two adversaries are no longer in a sufficiently warlike mood to make play with their daggers. The tranquillity of the Pompilus, who keeps on jauntily curling her antennæ in the face of the Segestria, reassures me as to my prisoner's fate; for greater security, however, I throw her a scrap of paper, in the folds of which she will find a refuge during the night. She installs herself there, out of the spider's reach. Next morning I find her dead. During the night the Segestria, whose habits are nocturnal, has recovered her daring and stabbed her enemy. I had my suspicions that the parts played might be reversed! The butcher of yesterday is the victim of to-day.
I replace the Pompilus by a hive-bee. The interview is not protracted. Two hours later the bee is dead, bitten by the spider. A drone-fly suffers the same fate. The Segestria, however, does not touch either of the two corpses any more than she touched the corpse of the Pompilus. In these murders the captive seems to have no other object than to rid herself of a turbulent neighbor. When appetite awakes, perhaps the victims will be turned to account. They were not, and the fault was mine. I placed in the jar a bumblebee of average size. A day later the spider was dead; the rude sharer of her captivity had done the deed.
Let us say no more of these unequal duels in the glass prison and complete the story of the Pompilus, whom we left with the paralyzed Segestria at the foot of the wall. She abandons her prey on the ground and returns to the wall. She visits the spiders' funnels one by one, walking on them as freely as on the stones; she inspects the silken tubes, plunging her antennæ into them, sounding and exploring them; she enters without the least hesitation. Whence does she now derive the temerity thus to enter the spiders' lairs? Only a little while ago she was displaying extreme caution; at this moment she seems
heedless of danger. The fact is that there is really no danger. The wasp is inspecting uninhabited houses. When she dives down a silken tunnel, she very well knows that there is no one in; for, had the Segestria been there, she would by this time have appeared on the threshold. The fact that the householder does not show herself at the first vibration of the neighboring threads is a certain proof that the tube is vacant; and the Pompilus enters in full security. I shall recommend future observers not to take the present investigations for hunting tactics. I have already remarked, and I repeat, the Pompilus never enters the silken ambush while the spider is there.
Among the funnels inspected, one appears to suit her better than the others; she returns to it frequently in the course of her investigations, which last for nearly an hour. From time to time she hastens back to the spider lying on the ground. She examines her, tugs at her, drags her a little closer to the wall, then leaves her the better to reconnoiter the tunnel which is the object of her preference. Lastly, she returns to the Segestria and takes her by the tip of the abdomen. The quarry is so heavy that she has great difficulty in moving it along the level ground. Two inches divide it from the wall. She gets to the wall, but not without effort; nevertheless, once the wall is reached, the job is quickly done. We learn that Antæus, the son of Mother Earth, in his struggle with Hercules, received new strength as often as his feet touched the ground; the Pompilus, daughter of the wall, seems to increase her powers tenfold once she has set foot on the masonry.
For here the wasp hoists her prey backward, her enormous prey, which dangles beneath her. She climbs now up a vertical plane, now a slope, according to the uneven surface of the stones. She crosses gaps where she has to go belly uppermost, while the quarry swings to and fro in the air. Nothing stops her; she keeps on climbing, to a height of six feet or more, without selecting her path, without seeing her goal, since she goes backward. Here is a lodge, no doubt reconnoitered beforehand and now reached, despite
the difficulties of an ascent which did not allow her to see it. The Pompilus lays her prey on it. The silken tube which she inspected so lovingly is only some eight inches distant. She goes to it, examines it rapidly, and returns to the spider, whom she at length lowers down the tube.
Shortly afterward I see her come out again. She searches here and there on the wall for a few scraps of mortar, two or three fairly large pieces, which she carries to the tube, to close it up. The task is done. She flies away.
Next day I inspect this strange burrow. The spider is at the bottom of the silken tube, isolated on every side, as though in a hammock. The wasp's egg is glued not to the ventral surface of the victim, but to the back, about the middle, near the beginning of the abdomen. It is white, cylindrical, and about a twelfth of an inch long. The few scraps of mortar which I saw carried have but very roughly cut off the silken chamber at the end. Thus Pompilus apicalis lays her quarry and her eggs not in a burrow of her own making, but in the spider's actual house. Perhaps the silken tube belongs to this very victim, which in that event provides both board and lodging. What a shelter for the larva of this Pompilus, the warm retreat and downy hammock of the Segestria!
Here, then, already, we have two spider-huntresses, the Winged Pompilus and Pompilus apicalis, who, unversed in the miner's craft, establish their offspring inexpensively in accidental chinks in the walls, or even in the lair of the spider on which the larva feeds. In these cells, acquired without exertion, they build only an attempt at a wall with a few fragments of mortar. But we must beware of generalizing about this expeditious method of establishment. Other Pompili are true diggers, who valiantly sink a burrow in the soil to a depth of a couple of inches. These include the Eight-spotted Pompilus (Pompilus octopunctatus, Panz.), with her black-and-yellow livery and her amber wings, a little darker at the tips. For her game she chooses the Epeira (E. fasciata, E. serica), those garden spiders, magnificently adorned, who lie 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 Li Ping-Yeng, the wealthy retired banker, to sit near the open window and look up at the sky, which seemed always to be packed with dirty clouds, or down into Pell Street, toward the corner, where it streams into the Bowery in frothy, brutal, yellow-andwhite streaks. Occasionally, huddled snug and warm in a fold of his loose sleeve, a diminutive, flat-faced Pekinese spaniel, with convex, nostalgic eyes and a sniffly button of a nose, would give a weak and rather ineffectual bark. Then, startled, yet smiling, Li Ping-Yeng would rise and go down-stairs to the Great Shanghai Chop Suey Palace in search of food.
priceless pieces of Chinese porcelain, blue-and-white Ming and Kang-he beakers in aubergine and oxen-blood, crackled clair-de-lune of the dynasty of Sung, peachblow celadon, Corean Fo dogs and Fong-hoang emblems in ashgray and apple-green.
This was the room, these were the treasures, which years ago he had prepared with loving, meticulous care for the coming of his bride.
She had come, stepping mincingly on tiny bound feet, "skimming," had said an impromptu Pell Street poet who had cut his rice gin with too much heady whompee juice, "over the tops of golden lilies, like Yao Niang, the iron-capped Manchu prince's famous concubine."
But almost immediately-the trag
To do this, he had to cross his apart- edy had not loomed very large in the ment.
Fretted with shifting lights, it lay in dim, scented splendor. Underfoot stretched a thick-napped dragon rug of tawny orange and taupe, picked out with rose-red and brown. Age-darkened tulip-wood furniture faded into the corners, where the shadows drooped and coiled. The door of the outer hall was hidden by a great, ebony-framed screen of pale lotus silk embroidered with conventionalized figures, black and purple and maroon, that represented the "Hei-song-che-choo," the "Genii of the Ink," household gods of the literati; while here and there, on table and taboret and étagère, were
morning news, starting with a crude head-line of "Woman Killed in Street by Car on Wrong Side," and winding up with "The Chauffeur, Edward H. Connor, of No. 1267 East 157th Street, was held at the West 68th Street Station on a charge of homicide"-her body had passed into the eternal twilight, her soul had leaped the dragon gate to join the souls of her ancestors.
And to-day Li Ping-Yeng, in the lees of life, was indifferent to the splendors of Ming and Sung, of broidered silks and carved tulip-wood. To-day there was only the searching for his personal tao, his inner consciousness removed 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 is of the dirt-clouted body, and not of the soul."
Yet in the matter of acrid memory and unfulfilled desire Miss Edith Rutter, the social-settlement investigator who specialized in the gliding vagaries of the Mongol mind as exemplified in Pell Street, had brought back at the time an entirely different tale, an entirely different interpretation of Chinese philosophy, too.
But be it remembered that philosophy is somewhat affected by surroundings, and that Miss Rutter had been on a visit to an aunt of hers in Albany, balancing a Jasper ware tea-cup and cake-plate on a scrawny, blacktaffeta-covered knee, and, about her, tired, threadbare furnishings that harped back to the days of rep curtains, horsehair chaise-longues, wax fruit, shell ornaments, banjo clocks, pictures of unlikely children playing with improbable dogs, cases of polished cornelian, levant-bound sets of Quida, and unflinching, uncompromising Protestant Christianity.
"My dear," she had said to Aunt Eliza Jane, "the more I see of these Chinamen, the less I understand them. This man I told you about, Mr. Li Ping-Yeng-oh, a most charming, cultured gentleman, I assure you, with such grand manners! I saw him a few minutes after they brought home the poor crushed little body of his young bride, his two days' bride, and, my dear, -would you believe it possible?-there was n't a tear in his eyes, his hands did n't even tremble. And when I spoke to him, tactful, gentle, consoling words, what do you imagine he replied?" "I 've no idea."
Thus the judgment of the whites; and it was further crystallized in detective Bill Devoy's rather more brutal: "Say, them Chinks has got about as much feelings as a snake has hips. No noives-no noives at all, see?" and Mr. Brian Neill, the Bowery saloonkeeper's succinct: "Sure, Mike. I hates all them yeller swine. They gives me the bloody creeps."
"He smiled! Yes, indeed, smiled! And he said something-I forget the exact words-about his having, perhaps, loved too much, his having perhaps been untrue to his inner self. can't understand their philosophy. It is-oh-so inhuman!" She had puzzled. "How can anybody love too much? What can he have meant by his 'inner self"?"
"Pah! heathens!" Aunt Eliza Jane had commented resolutely. "Have another cup of tea?"
Still, it is a moot point who is right, the Oriental, to whom love is less a sweeping passion than the result of a delicate, personal balancing on the scales of fate, or the Occidental, to whom love is a hectic, unthinking ecstasy, though, given his racial inhibitions, often canopied in the gilt buckram of stiffly emotional sex-romanticism.
At all events, even the humblest, earthiest coolie between Pell and Mott had understood when, the day after his wife's death, Li Ping-Yeng had turned to the assembled company in the back room of the Great Shanghai Chop Suey Palace, which was for yellow men only and bore the euphonic appellation, "The Honorable Pavilion of Tranquil Longevity," and had said:
"The ancients are right. One must preserve a proper balance in all emotions. The man who, being selfish, loves too much, is even as the one who cooks the dregs of wretched rice over a sandalwood fire in a pot of lapis lazuli, or as one who uses a golden plow in preparation for cultivating weeds, or as one who cuts down a precious camphor-grove to fence in a field of coarse millet. Such a man is the enemy of his own tao. It is most proper that such a man should be punished."
After a pause he had added:
"I am such a man, brothers. I have been punished. I tied my soul and my heart to a woman's jeweled ear-rings. The ear-rings broke. The woman died. Died my heart and my soul. And now, where shall I find them again? Where shall I go to seek for my tao?”
THERE had come a thick pall of silence, with only the angry sizzling of opium cubes as lean, yellow hands held them above the openings of the tiny lamps; a sucking of boiling-hot tea sipped by compressed lips; somewhere, outside,