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The Pangolin

by
 Another armored animal--scale
 lapping scale with spruce-cone regularity until they
form the uninterrupted central
 tail-row! This near artichoke with head and legs and grit-equipped
 gizzard,
the night miniature artist engineer is,
 yes, Leonardo da Vinci's replica--
 impressive animal and toiler of whom we seldom hear.
Armor seems extra.
But for him, the closing ear-ridge-- or bare ear lacking even this small eminence and similarly safe contracting nose and eye apertures impenetrably closable, are not; a true ant-eater, not cockroach eater, who endures exhausting solitary trips through unfamiliar ground at night, returning before sunrise, stepping in the moonlight, on the moonlight peculiarly, that the outside edges of his hands may bear the weight and save the claws for digging.
Serpentined about the tree, he draws away from danger unpugnaciously, with no sound but a harmless hiss; keeping the fragile grace of the Thomas- of-Leighton Buzzard Westminster Abbey wrought-iron vine, or rolls himself into a ball that has power to defy all effort to unroll it; strongly intailed, neat head for core, on neck not breaking off, with curled-in-feet.
Nevertheless he has sting-proof scales; and nest of rocks closed with earth from inside, which can thus darken.
Sun and moon and day and night and man and beast each with a splendor which man in all his vileness cannot set aside; each with an excellence! "Fearfull yet to be feared," the armored ant-eater met by the driver-ant does not turn back, but engulfs what he can, the flattened sword- edged leafpoints on the tail and artichoke set leg- and body-plates quivering violently when it retaliates and swarms on him.
Compact like the furled fringed frill on the hat-brim of Gargallo's hollow iron head of a matador, he will drop and will then walk away unhurt, although if unintruded on, he cautiously works down the tree, helped by his tail.
The giant-pangolin- tail, graceful tool, as a prop or hand or broom or ax, tipped like an elephant's trunkwith special skin, is not lost on this ant- and stone-swallowing uninjurable artichoke which simpletons thought a living fable whom the stones had nourished, whereas ants had done so.
Pangolins are not aggressive animals; between dusk and day they have not unchain-like machine-like form and frictionless creep of a thing made graceful by adversities, con- versities.
To explain grace requires a curious hand.
If that which is at all were not forever, why would those who graced the spires with animals and gathered there to rest, on cold luxurious low stone seats--a monk and monk and monk--between the thus ingenious roof supports, have slaved to confuse grace with a kindly manner, time in which to pay a debt, the cure for sins, a graceful use of what are yet approved stone mullions branching out across the perpendiculars? A sailboat was the first machine.
Pangolins, made for moving quietly also, are models of exactness, on four legs; on hind feet plantigrade, with certain postures of a man.
Beneath sun and moon, man slaving to make his life more sweet, leaves half the flowers worth having, needing to choose wisely how to use his strength; a paper-maker like the wasp; a tractor of foodstuffs, like the ant; spidering a length of web from bluffs above a stream; in fighting, mechanicked like the pangolin; capsizing in disheartenment.
Bedizened or stark naked, man, the self, the being we call human, writing- masters to this world, griffons a dark "Like does not like like that is abnoxious"; and writes error with four r's.
Among animals, one has sense of humor.
Humor saves a few steps, it saves years.
Unignorant, modest and unemotional, and all emotion, he has everlasting vigor, power to grow, though there are few creatures who can make one breathe faster and make one erecter.
Not afraid of anything is he, and then goes cowering forth, tread paced to meet an obstacle at every step.
Consistent with the formula--warm blood, no gills, two pairs of hands and a few hairs-- that is a mammal; there he sits on his own habitat, serge-clad, strong-shod.
The prey of fear, he, always curtailed, extinguished, thwarted by the dusk, work partly done, says to the alternating blaze, "Again the sun! anew each day; and new and new and new, that comes into and steadies my soul.
"

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