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| APPENDIX I
SOME NOTES BY JAMES MURRAY, BIOLOGIST TO THE EXPEDITION
THOUGH so much has been written about them, the penguins always excite fresh interest in every one who sees them for the first time. There is endless interest in watching them, the dignified Emperor, dignified notwithstanding his clumsy waddle, going along with his wife (or wives) by his side, the very picture of a successful, self-satisfied happy, unsuspicious countryman, gravely bowing like a Chinaman before a yelping dog and the little undignified matter-of-fact Adelie, minding his own business in a way worthy of emulation. They are perfectly adapted to a narrow round of life, and when compelled to face matters outside of their experience they often behave with apparent stupidity, but sometimes show a good deal of intelligence.
Their resemblance to human beings is always noticed. This is partly due to the habit of walking erect, but there are truly a great many human traits about them. They are the civilised nations of these regions, and their civilisation, if much simpler than ours, is in some respects higher and more worthy of the name. But there is a good deal of human nature in them too. As in the human race, their gathering in colonies does not show any true social instinct. They are merely gregarious; each penguin is in the rookery for his own ends, there is no thought of the general good. You might exterminate an Adelie rookery with the exception of one bird, and he would be in no way concerned so long as you left him alone.
Some little suggestion of altruism will appear in dealing, with the nesting habits of the Adelie. Thieving is known, among the Adelies at least. One very pleasing trait is shown, which they have in common with man. Eating is not with them the prime business in life, as it is with the common fowl and most animals. Both Emperors and Addles, when the serious business of nesting is off their minds, show a legitimate curiosity. Having fed and got into good condition they leave the sea and go off in parties, apparently to see the country, and travel for days and weeks.
We saw the Emperor only as a summer visitor. Having finished nesting, fed up and become glossy and beautiful, they came up out of the sea in large or small parties, apparently to have a good time before moulting. While the Adelies were nesting they began to come in numbers to inspect the camp. Passing among the Adelies, the two kinds usually paid no attention to one another, but sometimes an Adele would think an Emperor came too close to her nest, and a curious unequal quarrel would ensue, the little impudence pecking and scolding, and the Emperor scolding back, with some loss of dignity. Though more than able to hold her own with the tongue, the Adele knew the value of discretion whenever the Emperor raised his flipper.
They were curious about any unusual object and would come a long way to see a motor-oar or a man. When out on these excursions the leader of a party keeps them together by a long shrill squawk. Distant parties salute in this way and continue calling till they get pretty close. A party could be made to approach by imitating this call. The first party to arrive inspected the boat, then crossed the lake to the camp. Soon they discovered the dogs, and thereafter all other interests were swallowed up in the interest excited by them. After the first discovery crowds came every day for a long time, and from the manner in which they went straight to the kennels one was tempted to believe that the fame of them had been noised abroad.
CEREMONIES OF MEETING
Emperors are very ceremonious in meeting other Emperors or men or dogs. They come up to a party of strangers in a straggling procession, some big important aldermanic fellow leading. At a respectful distance from the man or dog they bah, the old male waddles close up and bows gravely till his beak is almost touching his breast. Keeping his head bowed he makes a long speech, in a muttering manner, short sounds following in groups of four or five. Having finished the speech, the head is still kept bowed a few seconds for politeness' sake, then it is raised and he describes with his bill as large a circle as the joints of his neck will allow, looking in your face at last to see if you have understood. If you have not comprehended, as is usually the case, he tries again. He is very patient with your stupidity, and feels sure that he will get it into your dull brain if he keeps at it long enough. By this time his followers are getting impatient. They are sure he is making a mess of it. Another male will waddle forward with dignity, elbow the first aside as if to say, "I'll show you how it ought to be done," and goes through the whole business again. Their most solemn ceremonies were used towards the dogs, and three old fellows have been seen calmly bowing and speaking simultaneously to a dog, which for its part was yelping and straining at its chain in the effort to get at them.
They seem to regard men as penguins like themselves. They are quite unsuspicious and slow to take alarm, so long as you stay still or move very slowly. If you walk too fast among them, or if you touch them, they get frightened and run away, only fighting when closely pressed. As one slowly retreats, fighting, he has a ludicrous resemblance to a small boy being bullied by a big one, his flipper towards the foe elevated in defence, and making quick blows at the bully. It is well to keep clear of that flipper when he strikes, for it is very powerful, and might break an arm.
Emperors were killed by the dogs, but it is likely that the animals hunted in couples to do this. A long fight was witnessed between an Emperor and the dog Ambrose, the largest of our dogs native to the Antarctic. The penguin was quick enough in movement to keep always facing the dog, and the flipper and long sharp bill were efficient weapons, as Ambrose seemed to appreciate. Only the bill was used, and it appeared to be due to short sight that the blow always fell short. Many of the apparently stupid acts of both kinds of penguins are doubtless to be traced to their very defective sight in air.
The Emperor can hardly be said to migrate since he remains to breed during the winter darkness, and spends the summer among the ice or on shore in the same region. Yet he travels a good deal, and the meaning of some of his journeyings remains-a mystery. The visits of touring-parties to the camp have been described. At the same season (early summer), when the motor-ear was making frequent journeys southward to Glacier Tongue with stores for depot-laying, we crossed on the way a great many penguin tracks. Many of these were beaten roads, where large parties had passed, some walking, some tobogganning. They all trended roughly to the south-east, and the wing-marks and footmarks showed that they were all outward bound from the open sea towards the shores of Ross Island. Some of the roads were twelve miles or more from the open sea. There were no return tracks.
We expected to find that they had gone in to seek sheltered moulting-places, but on a motor trip to the Turk's Head we skirted a long stretch of the coast and found no Emperors.
On journeys they often travel many miles walking erect, when they get along at a very slow shuffle, making only a few inches at each step. In walking thus they keep their balance by the assistance of the tail, which forms a tripod with the legs. When on a suitable snow surface they progress rapidly by tobogganning, a very graceful motion, when they make sledges of their breasts and propel themselves by the powerful legs, balancing and perhaps improving their speed by means of the wings.
Eight of them visited the motor-car one day, near Tent Island, sledging swiftly towards us. Two of them were very determined fighters and refused to be driven away. One obstinate phlegmatic old fellow, who wasn't going to be hurried by anybody, did learn to hustle as the car bore down upon him.
The Adelie is always comical. He pops out of the water with startling suddenness, like a jack-in-the-box, alights on his feet, gives his tail a shake, and. toddles off about his business. He always knows where he wants to go, and what he wants to do, and isn't easily turned aside from his purpose.
In the water the Adelie penguins move rapidly and circle in the same way as a porpoise or a dolphin, for which they are easily mistaken at a little distance. On level ice or snow they can run pretty fast, getting along about as fast as a man at a smart walk. They find even a small crack a serious obstruction, and pause and measure with the eye one of a few inches before very cautiously hopping it. They flop down and toboggan over any opening more than a few inches wide. They can climb hills of a very stoop angle, but on uneven ground they use their flippers as balancers. They toboggan with great speed on snow or ice, or even on the bare rocks when scared, but in that case their flippers are soon bleeding. Very rarely they swim in the water like ducks. They lie much lower in the water than the duck. The neck is below the surface and the head is just showing.
The Adelie is very brave in the breeding-season. His is true courage, not the courage of ignorance, for after he has learned to know man, and fear him, he remains to defend the nest against any odds. When walking among the nests one is assailed on all sides by powerful bills. Most of the birds sit still on the nests, but the more pugnacious ones run at you from a distance and often take you unawares. We wore for protection long felt boots reaching well above the knee. Some of the clever ones knew that they were wasting their efforts on the felt boots, and would come up behind, hop up and seize the skin above the boot, and hang on. tight, beating with their wings. One of these little furies, hanging to your flesh and flapping his strong flippers so fast that you can hardly see them move, is no joke. A man once stumbled and fell into a colony of Adelies, and before he could recover himself and scramble out they were upon him, and he bore the marks of their fury for some time.
Some birds became greatly interested in the camp, and wanted to nest there. One bird (we believe it was always the same one) couldn't be kept away, and came daily, sometimes bringing some friends. As he passed among the dogs, which were barking and trying to get at him, he stood and defied them all, and when we turned out to try to drive him away, he offered to take us all on too, and was finally saved against his will, and carried away by Brocklehurst, a wildly struggling, unconquerable being.
The old birds enjoy play, while the young ones have no leisure for play, being engrossed in satisfying the enormous appetites they have when growing. Four or five Adelies were playing on the ice-floe. One acted as leader, advanced to the edge of the floe, waited for the others to line up, raised his flipper, when they all dived in. In a few seconds they all popped out again, and repeated the performance, always apparently directed by the one. And so they went on for hours. While the Nimrod was frozen in the pack, some dozens of them were disporting themselves in a sea-pool alongside. They swam together in the duck fashion, then at a squawk from one they all dived and came up at the other side of the pool.
AN ADELIE CALLING FOR A MATE AFTER COMMENCING THE NEST
When the rookery is pretty well filled, and the nest-building is in full swing, the birds have a busy and anxious time. To get enough of suitable small stones is a matter of difficulty, and may involve long journeys for each single stone. The temptation is too strong for some of them, and they become habitual thieves. The majority remain stupidly honest. Amusing complications result. The bearing of the thief clearly shows that he knows he is doing wrong. He has a conscience, at least a human conscience, i.e. the fear of being found out. Very different is the furtive look of the thief, long after he is out of danger of pursuit, from the expression of the honest penguin coming home with a hard-earned stone.
An honest one was bringing stones from a long distance. Each stone was removed by a thief as soon as the owner's back was turned. The honest one looked greatly troubled as he found that his heap didn't grow, but he seemed incapable of suspecting the cause.
A thief, sitting on its own nest, was stealing from an adjacent nest, whose honest owner was also at home, but looking unsuspectingly in another direction. Casually he turned his head and caught the thief in the act. The thief dropped the stone and pretended to be busy picking up an infinitesimal crumb from the neutral ground.
The stone-gathering is a very strong part of the nesting instinct. It was kept up while sitting on the eggs, and if at a late stage they lost their eggs or young, they reverted to the heaping of stones, which they did in a half-hearted way. Unmated birds occupied the fringe of the rookery, and amused themselves piling and stealing till the chicks began to hatch out.
After the two eggs were laid the males appeared to do most of the work. At any hour the males predominated, a very few pairs were at the nests, and relieving guard was rarely noticed. The females were never seen in the majority. Those which had been recently down to feed could be recognised by the fresh crustacea round the nests. Judging by this sign, it would seem that some birds never leave the nest to feed during the whole period of incubation. Many birds lost their mates through the occasional breaking loose of a dog. These birds couldn't leave the nests.
REARING THE CHICKS
The rookery is most interesting after the chicks arrive. Many curious things happen as they grow. The young chicks are silvery or slaty grey, with darker heads, which are for the first day or so heavy and hang down helplessly. As soon as they are hatched the mothers take equal share in tending them, whatever they may have been doing before that. For some weeks the nest cannot be left untended or the chicks would perish of cold or fall victims to the skuas. The parents keep regular watches, going down in turn to feed, and relieving guard is an interesting ceremony. The bird just arrived from the sea hurries to the nest. It is anxious to see the chick, and to feed it; the other is unwilling to resign, but at last reluctantly gets off the nest, evidently very stiff, stretches itself, and hangs about for a while before going down to the sea.
When the young ones can hold up their heads the feeding begins. At first the parent tries to induce its offspring to feed by tickling its bill and throat. The old bird opens its mouth and the chick puts its head right in and .picks the food out of the throat. The bird can be seen bringing it up into the throat by an effort. If the young is unwilling to feed some food is thrown right up on to the ground and a little of it picked up again and placed on the chick's bill. After learning the way there is no need for such inducement, and the parents are taxed to satisfy the clamouring for more.
For some weeks after the young are hatched life in the rookery goes smoothly along. One parent is always on the nest and the young birds do not wander. Then the trouble begins. The young begin to move about and if anything disturbs the colony they run about in panic. As they don't know nest or parent they cannot return home. They meet the case by adopting parents, and run under any bird they come to. The old birds resent this and a chick is often pecked away from nest after nest till exhausted. The skuas get some at this time, but it is surprising how few. Most of the chicks take some old one unawares and get in the nest. She may have a chick already, or chicks, but as she doesn't know which is her own she cannot drive the intruder away. A sorely puzzled bird may be seen trying to cover four gigantic chicks. Some of the less precocious youngsters stay at home long enough to get to know the nest, and can find their way home after wandering a few yards. Such homes keep together a little longer.
The time comes when both parents must be absent together to get enough food for the growing chicks. Then the social order of the rookery breaks down and chaos begins. The social condition which is evolved out of the chaos is one of the most remarkable in nature, yet it serves its purpose and saves the race. A kind of communism is established, but the old birds have no part in it. They cherish the fiction that they have nests and children, and when they come up from the sea after feeding it is their intention to find the nest and feed their own young only. The young ones, for their part, establish a community of parents, and yet it isn't exactly that either, though it works out as if it were. It is each bird for itself. The chick assumes the first old one that comes within its reach to be its parent. Perhaps it really thinks so, as they are all alike.
ADELIE TRYING TO MOTHER A COUPLE OF WELL-GROWN STRANGERS
An old bird, coming up full of shrimps, is met by clamorous youngsters before it has time to begin the search for its hypothetical home. They order it to stand and deliver. It objects and scolds, and runs off. It may be by the irony of fate that it is its own young which accost it, but it can't know that. The chickens are both imperative and wheedling. Then begins one of those parent hunts which were so familiar at the end of the season. The end is never in doubt from the first. Every now and again the old one stops and expostulates. This shows weakness. There is no indecision on the part of the young one. It never seems anxious as to the result, but in the most matter-of-fact and persistent manner hunts the old one down. The hunts are often long and exhausting. One chase was witnessed at Pony Lake beside the camp. Nine times they circled the lake, and the hunt was not over when the watcher had to leave. On that occasion they must have travelled miles. At the end the old one stops, and still spluttering and protesting, delivers up. One would think that in these circumstances the weaker chicks would go to the wall, but it does not appear to be so. There are no ill-nourished young ones to be seen. Perhaps the hunts take so long that all get a chance.
A few days after the eggs began to hatch there was a severe blizzard, which lasted several days. Snow was banked up round most of the birds. A snowdrift crossed the densest part of the rookery, partly burying many birds. In the deepest part nests and birds were covered out of sight, and the only indication of the whereabouts of a bird was a little funnel in the snow, at the bottom of which an anxious eye could be seen. Many less deeply buried birds had freed one wing or both, which became stiff with cold, as they could not be got back again. The snow, melting by the heat of their bodies, and refreezing, made walls of ice round the birds. Many got alarmed and left the nests, when the snow fell in and buried them. In the warm sunny weather that followed the melting snow filled many nests with pools of water. Some birds showed ingenuity in dealing with these floods. They moved their nests, stone by stone (always keeping a hollow for the eggs or chicks), as much as their own width till they reached dry ground. While the snowdrift remained some birds whose nests were buried scraped hollows in the snow and collected a few stones. On a moderate estimate about half the young perished in this blizzard.
The old Addles do not mind the cold. Their thick blubber and dense fur sufficiently Rrotect them. In a blizzard they a will lie still and let the snow cover them. Going to the rookery once after a blizzard I could see no penguins; they had entirely disappeared. Suddenly at some movement or noise I was surrounded by them; they had sprung up out of the snow.
While the Adele appears to be entirely moral in his domestic arrangements, his stupidity (or his short-sightedness, which causes him to seem stupid) gives rise to many domestic complications. No doubt the presence of our camp upset the social economy, and probably when undisturbed nothing of the kind would occur. He has little sense of locality, and one little heap of stones is very like another, yet pairs seem to have no means of recognising one another but by the rendezvous of the nest. Husbands and wives, parents and children, do not know one another, but if found at the nest are accepted as bond fide.
All the birds go to their nests without hesitation when they Dome from the sea by the familiar route, but if taken from their nests to some other part of the rookery some find their way back without difficulty, others are quite lost. They are most puzzled when moved only a little away from home, and they will fight to keep another bird's nest while their own is only a couple of feet away. A bird will defend an egg or chick in the nest, but if it is removed just outside it will peck at it and destroy it.
Considering these facts it will be evident that if the rookery be disturbed confusion follows. A mere walk among the nests caused innumerable entanglements. One bird would leave the nest in fright, flop down a yard away beside a nest already occupied, or on a nest left exposed by another scared bird. Then one-sided fights would begin, one bird attacking another under the impression that it had usurped its nest, the rightful owner troubling little about the vicious pecking he was receiving, sitting calmly in conscious rectitude. A fight of this kind has been watched for an hour at a time, three neighbouring nests having been disturbed. One bird had got into another's nest, a second was trying to establish a claim to the occupied nest of a third, and meanwhile the chicks of number one were neglected in the cold. A bird which had no family came and covered the chicks, but looked conscious of wrongdoing and kept ready to bolt on a second's notice. All these birds but the last wanted their own nests and were within a yard of them without knowing it.
In all such cases, even when a bird got established on the wrong nest, there was always an adjustment afterwards. When they calmed down they became uneasy, probably observing the landmarks more critically, and would even leave a nest with chicks for their own empty nest. A chick removed from the nest and put alongside was not recognised, and the old bird never seemed to connect the facts of the empty nest and the chick beside it. If a chick were taken from the nest under the old bird's very eyes and held in front of it, it was always the ohick that was viciously attacked, not the aggressor.
Some experiments were tried on them in order to trace the workings of the penguin mind. If a man stood between a bird and its nest so as to prevent it from getting on to it, the bird would make many attempts to reach home, rushing furiously at the man. After a time it would appear to meditate, and then walk off rather disconsolately, make a tour of the oolony to which it belonged, and approach the nest from another side. It appeared greatly astonished that the intruder was still there. This curious trait was often seen. It is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand and imagining it is safe, or like a man refusing to believe his own eyes. It appears to think that if it takes a turn round, or comes to its nest from the other side, the horrible vision will disappear.
A bird was taken from a nest which had a chick in it and put down at a little distance. Meantime the chick was put in a neighbour's nest. Presently the bird came running up. It started back on seeing the empty nest, not in alarm or fear, but exactly as if thinking, "I've come to the wrong house!" and trotted off to a distant part of the rookery. Her reasoning seemed to be this: "There was a chick in my nest, therefore this empty nest cannot be mine." She couldn't imagine the chick leaving the nest, and so never searched for it. It was only a yard from the nest all the time. After half an hour's searching in vain for any place like home she returned to the nest, and accepted the restored chick as a matter of course.
A lost chick was never sought for. There would be no use; it couldn't be recognised. On account of this peculiarity we were able to make many readjustments of the family arrangements. When the blizzard destroyed so many chicks we distributed the young from nests where there were two to nests where there were none. They were usually adopted eagerly and the plan was quite successful.
When both birds are at a nest that is disturbed, or when the mate comes up from feeding to relieve guard, there is an interchange of civilities in the form of a loud squawking in unison, accompanied by a curious movement. The birds' necks are crossed, and at each squawk they are changed from side to side, first right then left. The harsh complaining clamour which they make was for long mistaken for quarrelling.
A bird returning from the sea came to the wrong nest and tried to enter into conversation with the occupant, who would have nothing to do with him. She knew her mate had just gone off for the day, and wouldn't be such a fool as to come back too early, so she sat still, indifferent to the squawking of the other. A look of distress came into his face as he failed to get any response, and he was slow to realise that he had made a mistake.
A small colony was found with about two dozen large chicks, unattended by any old birds. They were driven across the lake to a larger colony Half-way over a few old birds were squatted, enjoying a rest. When the chicks saw them they ran up to them joyfully, saying: "Here's pa and ma, hooray!" To their surprise they got the reverse of a cordial welcome, being driven away with vicious peckings. They were driven on to the larger colony and were swallowed up in it.
The Adelies are not demonstrative of their affections. It is difficult to discover if they have any beyond the instinctive affection for the young. The pairing appears to be a purely business matter, and the mates don't even show any power to recognise one another. A penguin was injured by the dogs, but it seemed possible that it might recover, so we did not at once put it out of pain. In a couple of days it died. Shortly after we noticed a live penguin standing by it. We removed the dead bird to a distance, and after a while found the other standing beside it as before. It was the general opinion that it was the dead bird's mate which had found it out. Such an action is entirely opposed to what we expect after a long study of their habits. There are always plenty of dead birds about a rookery, and the living go about entirely indifferent to them. It is puzzling in any point of view, but it is less difficult to believe that the bird found its dead mate than that it took an interest in a dead stranger.
When the young birds are well grown, if there is an alarm they flock together, and any old birds present in the colony form a wall of defence between the young and the enemy. This habit has given rise to the belief that they are somewhat communistic in their social order, and that the defence of the colony is a concerted action. It is not so. Each bird is defending its own young one only, and will often fight with another of the defending birds, or peck at any young one which comes in its way.
There are real instances of altruism or kindness to strangers. Our passage through the rookery frightened away the parent of a very young chick. A bird passing at the distance of a few yards noticed it and came over to it. He cocked his head on one side and looked at it, as if saying: "Hullo! this little beggar's deserted; must do something for him." He tickled its bill, as the parents do when coaxing the very young chicks to feed, but it was too much frightened to feed. After coaxing it in this way for some time he turned away and put some food upon the ground, and, lifting a little in his bill, he put some on each side of the chick's bill. Just then the rightful parent returned and the helper ran off. This was not an isolated case, but was observed on several occasions.
One incident seemed to reveal true social instinct. From a small colony of about two dozen nests all the eggs but one were taken in order to find out if the birds would lay again. As it turned out they did not. The birds sat on their empty nests for some time, then they disappeared. When the time came for the solitary egg to hatch, about a dozen of the nests were re-occupied and the birds took their share in defending the one chick.
DEPARTURE OF THE YOUNG
When they have shed most of their down the young birds congregate at the edge of the sea. They cease from hunting the old ones for food, and appear to be waiting for something. When the right time comes, which they seem to know perfectly, they dive into the sea, sometimes in small parties, sometimes singly, disappear for a time, and may be seen popping up far out to sea. They dive and come up very awkwardly, bat swim well.
It is marvellous how fully instinct makes these birds independent. The parents do not take them to the water and teach them to swim. They haven't even the example of the old birds, which stay behind to moult. At an early age they become independent of their own parents, and earn their living by hunting any old bird they find. Though they have spent their lives on land, and only know that food is something found in an old bird's throat, when the time comes they leave the land and plunge boldly into the sea, untaught, to get their living by straining crustacea out of the water in the same way as the whale does.
Some of our party reported that they saw penguins teaching the young to swim, but if this ever happens it is not general. Time and again the young have been watched leaving as described, entirely on their own. At that season nearly all the old birds are in the moult and never venture into the water.
Like the Emperor, the Adelie is fond of travelling when family cares are off his mind. The great blizzard which wiped out half the rookery left hundreds of old birds free. They began to explore the adjacent country in bands. The round of the lakes was a favourite trip and broad -beaten roads marked this route. Tracks also led to the summits of some of the hills, though the short-sighted Adelie could hardly go there for the view.
There was no general trek southwards, such as the Emperors made, yet the Southern Party found tracks of two at a distance of some eighty miles from the sea.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND NICODEMUS
These names dignified two penguin chicks. While chaos reigned in the rookery I found them exhausted and covered with mire, having been hunted and pecked through the rookery. They were taken to the house, put in a large cage in the porch, and fed by hand with sardines and fish-cakes. The feeding was disagreeable. They didn't like the food and shook it out of their bills in disgust. So it was necessary to force it down their throats till it was beyond their reach.
In a few days they became quite tame and recognised those who fed them. Familiar only with our peculiar method of feeding them, one of them indicated when he was hungry by taking my finger into his bill. We shortened their names to Nebby and Nicky, and they answered to them, but they answered equally readily to the common name of Bill. The sounds of the rookery reached them and sometimes greatly excited them and they made desperate efforts to get through the netting of their cage. At these times we would take them out for a walk. They made no attempt to go to the rookery, and were rather frightened.
PENGUINS LISTENING TO THE GRAMOPHONE DURING THE SUMMER
Nebuchadnezzar was a very friendly little fellow, and would follow me about outside, and come running when called. The feeding was unnatural, and for this reason, doubtless, in a few weeks they died.
THE RINGED PENGUIN
A single ringed penguin appeared at Cape Royds at the end of the breeding-season, just as the Adelies were beginning to moult. No ringed penguin had been seen in this part of the Antarctic before. It was evidently a stray one which had come ashore to moult. It is about the same size as the Adele, but is more agile. It was at the season when the young Adelies go off to sea. At a little distance the ringed penguin, among a crowd of old Adelies, looked somewhat like a young Adelie with the white throat. I picked him up by the legs to investigate. To my surprise he curled round and bit me on the hand. An Adelie could not do so. A closer examination showed what he was.