CHAPTER II. - The Philosopher Proposes.

"Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won;

Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed;

And when a woman wooes, what woman's son

Will sourly leave her till she have prevailed?"

MNAG BIG, the great philosopher, sat waiting for Yung. He was an old man, old rather with thought than with years. His bowed head was gray, his long thin arms appeared nerveless, only his high forehead showed itself to be the covering of a mind still strong and vigorous.

By his side sat his daughter, Tue Swe. No wonder the villagers were puzzled by this girl; for she seemed of a different kind from them. She was very small in stature, and slight though elegant in form; her hands and feet were shorter and much narrower than those of the ordinary ape. Her features were well formed, without that ruggedness of outline so common in the Apeland females.

The girl seemed restless and ill at ease. She was unaccustomed to entertaining visitors, and the prospect was not a pleasant one. Her father saw and pitied her embarrassment. "It is your time for exercise," he said; "you may walk out, as usual, if you wish." Tue thanked him, and hurried from the room.

Yung Thing soon entered the hut. He, however, had only time to say "good-morning," when Loe Hie and Sue Choe followed him. Sue immediately addressed the philosopher.

"O Mnag," exclaimed she, as a means of drawing him out, "what do you think of our village? I suppose it seems mean and petty to a great traveller and thinker like you."

"No shell is so mean," said Mnag sententiously, "that it may not contain a pearl; nor do I call petty the smallest insect that owns the mystery of life."

The girl seemed a little oppressed by this ponderous sentence; but soon recovering herself, she proceeded: -

"What do you think of us?"

"Your political ideas are crude. Selfishness is the basis of your government. No country can be well governed where each arrogates to himself the right to a voice in the administration. The time will come when an unselfish policy will prevail; when the people will give up their petty individualities, and leave their destinies in the hands of a Supreme Ruler, who in turn will sacrifice himself, if need be, for his people."

"Ah, sir, how charmingly you talk! No one can be stupid who is blessed with your company," said Sue, with a coquettish glance.

"Truly, thought, like fear and suspicion, is essentially communicable."