A small crowd had gathered round the entrance to the park. His curiosity
aroused, Robert crossed the road to see what was happening. He found that the
centre of attraction was an old man with a performing monkey. The monkey’s
tricks, he soon discovered, were in no way remarkable so, after throwing a few
pennies in the dirty hat that the man had placed on the pavement, Robert began
to move off, along with other members of the crowd.
At this point the man suddenly let out a loud cry. Everyone turned to see
what had happened. The man was bending over his monkey, which now lay
quite still on the pavement. He picked up the apparently lifeless body and,
holding it close to him, began to weep. A young man stepped forward from the
crowd and, taking some money from his pocket, dropped it into the hat. Robert
and several other people did likewise, until the pennies in the hat were covered
with silver coins. Meanwhile, the man continued to hold the dead monkey in his
arms and seemed to take no notice of what was going on about him.
A few months later, Robert came across the old man again in another part
of the city. The man had a monkey, bought no doubt with the money which the
crowd had given him. It did not, however, seem any better at its tricks than the
previous one. Robert was pleased to see that the old man was still able to earn a
living, though on this occasion, having partly paid for the monkey out of his own
pocket, he did not feel inclined to throw any money into the hat.
But the performance was not yet over! Once again the old man let out a
loud cry. Once again the monkey lay still on the pavement. The man picked up
the “dead” monkey and clutching it in his arms began to weep. The same young
man stepped forward and threw some money into the hat. Again the crowd
followed suit – except for Robert. Smiling to himself, he went on his way, amazed
at the man’s audacity.