The History of Jacko I., edited by Andrew
The ship ‘Roxalana’ of Marseilles lay anchored in the
Bay of Loando, which as we all know is situated in South
Guinea. The ‘Roxalana’ was a merchant vessel, and a
brisk traffic had been going on for some time with the
exchange of the European goods with which the ship had
been laden, for ivory and other native produce. All hands
were very busy getting on board the various provisions
and other stores needed for a long voyage, for it was in
the days of sailing vessels only, and it would be some
time before they could hope to return to Marseilles.
Now the captain of the ‘Roxalana’ was a mighty
hunter, and seeing that all was going on well under the
first officer’s direction, he took his gun and a holiday and
went up country for one more day’s sport.
He was as successful as he was brave, and he had the
great good luck to meet a tiger, a young hippopotamus,
and a boa constrictor. All these terrible creatures fell
before the unerring aim of the Provençal Nimrod, and
after so adventurous a morning’s work the captain
naturally began to feel tired and hungry, so he sat down
under the shade of some trees to rest and have some
He drew a flask of rum out of one pocket, and having
uncorked it placed it on his right side; from his other
pocket he produced a huge guava, which he laid on his
left side, and finally he drew a great wedge of ship biscuit
from his game bag and put it between his knees. Then
he took out his tobacco pouch and began to fill his pipe
so as to have it ready at hand when he had finished his
ANNOYANCE OF THE CAPTAIN ON FINDING HIS FLASK OF RUM UPSET
Imagine his surprise when, having filled his pipe, he
found the flask had been upset and the guava had disappeared!
I am afraid the captain made use of some very strong
language, but there was nothing for it but to make the
best of the biscuit, the sole relic of his feast. As he
munched it he warily turned his head from side to side,
watching for the thief, when all of a sudden something
fell upon his head. The captain put up his hand and
found—the skin of his guava. Then he raised his eyes
and saw a monkey dancing for joy at his own pranks in
the tree just above him.
As I have already shown the captain was an excellent
shot. Without stirring from his seat, he took up his gun
and with a shot snapped the end of the branch on which
his persecutor was sitting.
Down came branch and monkey, and the captain at
once captured the latter before it had time to recover from
the surprise of its rapid fall.
He was small and quite young, only half grown, but
of a rather rare kind, as the captain, who had an ever-ready
eye to the main chance, at once perceived.
‘Ah ha!’ said he, ‘this little fellow will be worth fifty
francs if he’s worth a farthing by the time we get back to
So saying he popped the monkey into his game-bag
and buttoned it carefully up. Then, feeling that a piece of
biscuit was not quite a sufficient lunch after the fatigues of
his morning’s sports, he retraced his steps and returned to
his ship in company with his monkey, whom he named
Before leaving Loando the captain, who was fond of
pets, bought a beautiful white cockatoo with a saffron
crest and jet black beak. ‘Cataqua’ (that was his harmonious
name) was indeed a lovely creature and extremely
accomplished into the bargain. He spoke French,
English, and Spanish equally well, and sang ‘God save
the King,’ the ‘Marseillaise,’ and the Spanish National
Anthem with great perfection.
The aptitude for languages made him a ready pupil,
and his vocabulary was largely increased by daily association
with the crew of the ‘Roxalana,’ so that before they
had been very long at sea Cataqua swore freely in the
purest Provençal, to the delight and admiration of his
The captain was very fond of his two pets, and every
morning, after inspecting the crew and giving each man
his orders for the day, he would go up to Cataqua’s cage,
followed by Jacko, and give the cockatoo a lesson. When
this was well said he would reward his pupil by sticking
a lump of sugar between the wires of the cage, a reward
which delighted Cataqua whilst it filled Jacko with
He too loved sugar, and the moment the captain’s
back was turned he would draw near the cage and pull
and pinch till the lump of sugar generally changed its
destination, to the despair of Cataqua, who, crest erect
and with brandished claw, rent the air with shrieks of rage
mingled with angry oaths.
Jacko meanwhile stood by affecting an innocent air
and gently sucking the sugar which he had stowed away
in one of his pouches. Unluckily none of Cataqua’s
owners had taught him to cry ‘stop thief’ and he soon
realised that if Jacko were to be punished he must see to
So one day, when the monkey after safely abstracting
the sugar pushed a paw between the bars of the cage
to gather up some remaining crumbs, Cataqua, who was
gently swinging, head down, and apparently unconscious
of what was going on, suddenly caught Jacko’s thumb in
his beak and bit it to the bone.
Jacko uttered a piercing shriek, rushed to the rigging
and climbed as far as he could, when he paused, clinging
on by three paws and piteously brandishing the fourth in
Dinner-time came, and the captain whistled for Jacko,
but contrary to all customs no Jacko came. The captain
whistled again, and this time he thought he heard an
answering sound which seemed to come from the sky.
He raised his eyes and beheld Jacko still waving his
injured paw. Then began an exchange of signals, with
the result that Jacko firmly refused to come down. Now
the captain had trained his crew to habits of implicit
obedience and had no notion of having his orders resisted
by a monkey, so he took his speaking trumpet and called
for Double Mouth.
Double Mouth was the cook’s boy, and he had well
earned his nickname by the manner in which he took
advantage of his culinary position to make one meal
before the usual dinner hour without its interfering in
the least with his enjoyment of a second at the proper
time. At the captain’s call Double Mouth climbed on
deck from the cook’s galley and timidly approached his
The captain, who never wasted words on his subordinates,
pointed to Jacko, and Double Mouth at once
began to give chase with an activity which proved that
the captain had chosen well. As a matter of fact Jacko
and Double Mouth were dear friends, the bond of sympathy
which united them being one of greediness, for
many a nice morsel Jacko had to thank the cook’s boy
for. So when the monkey saw who was coming, instead
of trying to escape him he ran to meet him, and in a few
minutes the two friends, one in the other’s arms, returned
to the deck where the captain awaited them.
The captain’s one treatment for wounds of all kinds
consisted of a compress steeped in some spirit, so he at
once dipped a piece of rag in rum and bandaged the
patient’s thumb with it. The sting of the alcohol on the
wound made Jacko dance with pain, but noticing that the
moment the captain’s back was turned Double Mouth
rapidly swallowed the remains of the liquid in which the
rag had been dipped, he realised that however painful as
a dressing it might possibly be agreeable to the palate.
He stretched out his tongue and very delicately touched
the bandage with its tip. It was certainly rather nice,
and he licked more boldly. By degrees the taste grew on
him, and he ended by putting his thumb, bandage and all,
into his mouth and sucking it bodily.
The result was that (the captain having ordered the
bandage to be wetted every ten minutes) by the end of a
couple of hours Jacko began to blink and to roll his head,
and as the treatment continued he had at length to be
carried off by Double Mouth, who laid him on his own
Jacko slept without stirring for some hours. When he
woke the first thing which met his eyes was Double Mouth
busy plucking a fowl. This was a new sight, but Jacko
seemed to be particularly struck by it on this occasion.
He got up from the bed and came near, his eyes steadily
fixed on the fowl, and carefully watched how the whole
operation proceeded. When it was ended, feeling his head
a little heavy still, he went on deck to take the air.
The weather was so settled and the wind so favourable
that the captain thought it only a waste to keep the
poultry on board alive too long, so he gave orders that a
bird should be served daily for his dinner in addition to
his usual rations. Soon after a great cackling was heard
amongst the hencoops and Jacko climbed down from the
yard where he was perched at such a rate that one might
have thought he was hastening to the rescue. He tore into
the kitchen, where he found Double Mouth already plucking
a newly killed fowl, till not an atom of down was left
Jacko showed the deepest interest in the process,
and on returning to deck he, for the first time since his
accident, approached Cataqua’s cage, carefully keeping
beyond range of his beak however. After strolling
several times round, he at last seized a favourable moment
and clutching hold of one of Cataqua’s tail feathers,
pulled hard till it came out regardless of the cockatoo’s
screams and flappings. This trifling experiment caused
Jacko the greatest delight, and he fell to dancing on all
fours, jumping up and falling back on the same spot
which all his life was the way in which he showed his
supreme content about anything.
Meantime the ship had long lost sight of land and
was in full sail in mid ocean. It appeared unnecessary
to the captain, therefore, to keep his cockatoo shut up in
a cage, so he opened the door and released the prisoner,
there being no means of escaping beyond the ship.
Cataqua instantly took advantage of his freedom to climb
to the top of one of the masts, where, with every appearance
of rapture, he proceeded to regale the ship’s company
with his entire large and varied vocabulary, making quite
as much noise by himself as all the five-and-twenty
sailors who formed his audience.
Whilst this exhibition was taking place on deck a
different scene was being enacted below. Jacko had as
usual approached Double Mouth at plucking time, but
this time the lad, who had noticed the extreme attention
with which the monkey watched him, thought that
possibly there might be some latent talent in him which
it was a pity not to develop.
Double Mouth was one of those prompt and energetic
persons who waste no time between an idea and its
execution. Accordingly he quietly closed the door, put
a whip into his pocket in case of need, and handed Jacko
the duck he was about to pluck, adding a significant
touch to the handle of the whip as a hint.
But Jacko needed neither hint nor urging. Without
more ado he took the duck, placed it between his knees
as he had seen his tutor do, and fell to with a will. As
he found the feathers giving place to down and the down
to skin, he became quite enthusiastic, so much so that
when his task was done he fell to dancing for joy exactly
as he had done the day before by Cataqua’s cage.
Double Mouth was overjoyed for his part. He only
regretted not having utilised Jacko’s talents sooner, but
he determined to do so regularly in the future. Next day
the same operation took place, and on the third day,
Double Mouth, recognising Jacko’s genius, took off his
own apron and tied it round his pupil, to whom from that
moment he resigned the charge of preparing the poultry
for the spit. Jacko showed himself worthy of the confidence
placed in him, and by the end of a week he had
quite distanced his teacher in skill and quickness.
Meantime the ship was nearing the Equator. It was
a peculiarly sultry day, when the very sky seemed to sink
beneath its own weight; not a creature was on deck but
the man at the helm and Cataqua in the shrouds. The
captain had flung himself into his hammock and was
smoking his pipe whilst Double Mouth fanned him with
a peacock’s tail. Even Jacko seemed overcome by the
heat, and instead of plucking his fowl as usual, he had
placed it on a chair, taken off his apron, and appeared lost
in slumber or meditation.
His reverie, however, did not last long. He opened
his eyes, glanced round him, picked up a feather which
he first stuck carelessly in his mouth and then dropped,
and at length began to slowly climb the ladder leading on
deck, pausing and loitering at each step. He found the
deck deserted, which apparently pleased him, as he gave
two or three little jumps whilst he glanced about to look
for Cataqua, who with much gesticulation was singing
‘God save the King’ at the top of his voice.
Then Jacko seemed to forget his rival’s existence
altogether, and began lazily to climb the rigging on the
opposite side, where he indulged in various exercises,
swinging by his tail head down, and generally appearing
to have only come with a view to gymnastics. At
length, seeing that Cataqua took no notice of him, he
quietly sidled that way, and at the very moment that the
performance of the English National Anthem was at its
height, he seized the singer firmly with his left hand just
where the wings join the body.
Cataqua uttered a wild note of terror, but no one was
sufficiently awake to hear it.
‘By all the winds of heaven!’ exclaimed the captain
suddenly. ‘Here’s a phenomenon—snow under the
‘No,’ said Double Mouth, ‘that’s not snow, that’s—ah,
you rascal!’ and he rushed towards the companion.
‘Well, what is it then?’ asked the captain, rising in
‘What is it?’ cried Double Mouth from the top of the
ladder. ‘It’s Jacko plucking Cataqua!’
The captain was on deck in two bounds, and with a
shout of rage roused the whole crew from their slumbers.
‘Well!’ he roared to Double Mouth, ‘what are you
about, standing there? Come, be quick!’
Double Mouth did not wait to be told twice, but was
up the rigging like a squirrel, only the faster he climbed
the faster Jacko plucked, until when the rescuer reached
the spot it was a sadly bare bird which he tore from
Jacko’s vindictive hands and carried back to his master.
Needless to say that Jacko was in dire disgrace after
this exploit. However, in time he was forgiven and often
amused the captain and crew with his pranks.
When the ‘Roxalana’ reached Marseilles after a quick
and prosperous voyage, he was sold for seventy-five francs
to Eugène Isabey the painter, who gave him to Flero for
a Turkish hookah, who in his turn exchanged him for a
Greek gun with Décamps.