Le Petit Train d'Auteuil

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Bay of Bengal, Trincomalee - The great primates



            7 am. Mad gallop across the corrugated iron roof above the sleepers : a troop of monkeys is racing towards a fruit-tree. It is breakfast time. One of the waiters comes and chats : he had seen that I was interested in the quadrumanes.

            He tells me that a customer, a German living in Kenya, swore that the only way of achieving anything with these animals was to use the gun on them. Hence, one morning, because of the racket, our man bursts forward and demands a rifle (hunting is about free to all in the country) : panic among the personnel and the manager who opt for dispute rather than slaughter. By the way, the Ceylonese man adds, monkeys weep when you point a gun at them.

            Faced with my incredulity, he displays such mimicry that I go on listening to him : one day when he accompanied a hunter and they had stopped in front of a monkey family, the man had raised his gun and one of the animals began to groan and to weep.

            The man shot. The animal cried out, put its hand to its flank and removed it again dripping with blood, then calmly, deliberately, eyes immensely sad, it held out its bloodied hand towards the killer. At this point, my interlocutor adds, “I also began to weep”.


Claude d’Esplas (Le Petit Train d'Auteuil)
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