VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS 217
knife and bracelet " (taking them out of my pocket). The two creatures stood silent while I spoke, seeming to listen with great attention; and, when I had ended, they neighed frequently towards each other, as if they were engaged in serious conversation. I plainly observed, that their language expressed the passions very well, and the words might with little pains be resolved into an alphabet, more easily than the Chinese.
I could frequently distinguish the word Yahoo, which was repeated by each of them several times; and, although it was impossible for me to conjecture what it meant, yet, while the two horses were busy in conversation, I endeavoured to practise this word upon my tongue; and, as soon as they were silent, I boldly pronounced Yahoo, in a loud voice, imitating, at the same time, as near as I could, the neighing of a horse; at which they were both visibly surprised, and the grey repeated the same word twice, as if he meant to teach me the right accent, wherein I spoke after him as well as I could, and found myself perceivably to improve every time, though far from any degree of perfection. Then the bay tried me with a second word, much harder to be pronounced; but, reducing it to the English orthography, may be spelt thus, Houyhnhnm. I did not succeed in this so well as the former; but, after two or three farther trials, I had better fortune; and they both appeared amazed at my capacity.
After some farther discourse, which I then conjectured might relate to me, the two friends took their leaves, with the same compliment of striking each other's hoof; and the grey made me signs that I should walk before him; wherein I thought it prudent to comply, till I could find a better director. When I offered to slacken my pace, he would cry Hhnun, Hhuun ; I guessed his meaning, and gave him to understand, as well as I could, that I was weary, and not able to walk faster; upon which he would stand a while to let me rest.