“It bears repeating – if ever you find yourself covered in monkeys remember to: stop, drop and roll.”
Longwell is reinvigorated when he hears Tipton shouting. He hopes to follow Tipton’s screaming’s out of the cavern.
F.H. Longwell III was a gentleman explorer, a renowned naturalist and a scholar who traveled with his manservant Tipton on behalf of The World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in the early hours of the 19th century.
I followed the yelps, blindly galloping through the passageways. Tipton was guiding me out with his bellowing! In the darkness I could feel the alternating cold and hot air that signified various openings and passageways, but always I followed the increasingly frantic screams.
Finally I came to what I thought was a dead end. I whooped three times, WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! It was soon answered by a squeal from Tipton.
I carefully moved my hands across the cave wall. In the darkness I could sense piles of rubble and debris. Tipton let out another scream, which lead me to an opening no more than 2 feet across, mid way up the wall.
It was an ancient lava tube and it lead up at a 45-degree angle. I pushed rubble out of my way and crawled into the unknown. I was greatly concerned that I may get stuck so my progress was slow. A spot of light appeared up ahead, high above me. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks. But the squeal from Tipton made me sure I was on the right path.
With every inch of progress the air became fresher and the screams louder. It wasn’t long before I squinted my eyes and pulled myself out of the tube onto the floor of a cave which featured a large opening to the outside! And there, just as I expected, was Tipton.
He was standing tall and proud with at least three good sized monkeys hanging on him. Made some new friends? I laughed as I brushed myself off and walked up to him. But his howls of pain demonstrated that the monkeys actually had hold of parts of his body and they seemed to be especially angry. About something…
Tipton screamed again, dropped to the ground and began to roll. I stood back. If I know anything about Tipton I know he’s not one to suffer monkeys lightly. Tipton’s instinct and training took over.
It bears repeating – if ever you find yourself covered in monkeys remember to: stop, drop and roll. (34)
Later, as Tipton recovered sitting outside the cave entrance, he admitted he had found a large store of bananas upon crawling out from the lava tube. Needless to say those bananas weren’t really free for the taking.
When I enquire as to what his time frame was for going back and finding me in that infernal cavern, he says nothing. He offers me a banana which I gratefully eat, while keeping close watch for any sign of those little rascals. They can bite.
That afternoon we hiked down the embankment and were met by the warm salty waters of the Western sea. Looking back, far inland, we see a volcanic peak sending a wisp of smoke into the sky. Waves crashed against an azure sky. A fresh air brought good cheer to us both. But the monkey bites caused a most severe reaction to Tipton. By that evening he was blown up as big as a horse. Maybe even bigger. But I knew that this too would pass. You can’t expect to have found treasures like we had and not pay a price. Sweet mother Fortune needed payment. And Tipton, a gentlemen manservant if ever there was one, did the paying. He was mostly better in three days.
34- Longwell filled many notebooks in his lifetime with rules about how to handle monkeys. In the final years of his life he preformed weekly, public readings regarding the dangers monkeys present to the unsuspecting and about their uncouth behavior and desire to display their butts. Along with his ‘stop, drop and roll’ rule was the ‘twist, twist and shout’ method. But as he was fond of telling youngsters who he would pester as they walked about the Curiosities museum or playground, the best defense against a wild monkey is living in a large glass enclosure surrounded by burly wrestlers.