No.9.—The Behemoth.

A BEHEMOTH IS a kind of freshwater leviathan found in deep, slow-moving pools of the Nile and Euphrates rivers. In ancient times it was also found in the Orontes; but it was extensively hunted for royal sport, and the Syrian behemoth was extinct by the time of Antiochus Epimanes. Behemoths are almost entirely vegetarian, except for the occasional river barge, and like their saltwater cousins breed in late winter. The female then raises her young among the rushes that line the river, hiding them until they are old enough to feed on their own. Hiding a behemoth in the rushes is no mean feat, and in truth the mother behemoth does a sloppy job of it. But would you molest a mother behemoth defending her young? Dr. Boli didn’t think so. When the young behemoths are sufficiently mature, they migrate to another section of the river, and the whole thing begins again. The male behemoth, meanwhile, has been looking for work and hanging around in bars, and eventually ends up in jail on charges of public intoxication. This is what comes of abandoning one’s family for a life of reckless irresponsibility. The prisons of Cairo are filled with male behemoths serving time for petty offenses. The young male behemoths thus grow up without a positive male role model, and so the cycle perpetuates itself. In this way the delicate ecological balance of the river is maintained.

In traditional allegory, the behemoth is appropriate for the fortieth wedding anniversary; in the modern system, for the fifteenth.