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DAVID O. MCKAY LIBRARY 




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FIRST BOOK 



OF 



NATURE, 



BY 



JAMES E. TALMAGE. 




PUBLISHED BY 

THE CONTRIBUTOR COMPANY, 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH. 
1888. 



Copyright 1888:— by J. E. Talmage. 



FROM THE PRKSS OF 

THE DESERET NEWS COMPANY. 



PREFACE. 



g||N PREPARING this little volume, the author 
aS* has made no greater pretension than is implied 
£iS> in its title. The matter here presented is 
designed to assist in the elementary study of 
the simplest objects of Nature; such as ail people 
have more or less necessity of dealing with. 

The order in which the topics have been treated, 
is the one that appeared most natural, and easiest to 
follow — animals, plants, and minerals of earth, and 
the most conspicuous objects of the heavens. No 
detailed classification has been attempted; nor have 
technical definitions or terms been employed; but it 
is hoped that the plan here adopted, will serve the 
reader as an introduction to a more thorough and 
systematic study of natural science, if to pursue 
such should be his desire. 

The writer has sought in a sincere though humble 
way to demonstrate the meaning of "Nature" as 
defined in the introductory chapter; that Nature is 
but another name for the will of God as expressed in 



iv PREFACE. 

His works. Many of the ideas presented are of 
necessity far from new — such facts have long been 
common property of the reading public; but wherever 
cullings have been made from standard works, credit 
has been given in the body of the book. 

All the illustrations in Parts I, III and IV have 
been taken from "Steele's Zoology," "Geology," and 
"Astronomy," by the kind permission of the publish- 
ers, A. S. Barnes & Co. of New York and Chicago. 

J. E. T. 

Salt Lake City, Nov., 1888. 



"And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything." 



CONTENTS. 



Chapter I.— Introduction - - 1 

PART I. — The Animal Kingdom. 
Chapter II. — Animals, ... 5 

Chapter III. — Apes and Monkeys, - - 7 

Chapter IV. — Insectivorous Animals: Bats, Moles, 12 
Chapter V. — Carnivorous Animals: Cat Family; Dog 

Family; Weasel Family, - - -16 

Chapter VI. — Herbivorous Animals: Horse Family; 

Ox Family; Hog, - 24 

Chapter VII. — Rodents or Gnawing Animals: Mice; 

Rats: Gophers, Squirrels; - - -31 

Chapter VIII.— The Birds, - - 36 

Chapter IX. — Birds at Home, - 43 

ChapterX. — Birds of Prey: Condor; Eagles; Hawks; 

Owls, - - - 51 

Chapter XI. — Climbing Birds: Woodpeckers; Par- 
rots; Toucans, - - - - 58 
Chapter XII. — Scratching Birds: Pigeons; Domestic 

Fowls; Running Birds, - - - 64 

Chapter XIII. — Perching Birds; Water Birds, 69 

Chapter XIV.— Reptiles; Turtles, - - 74 

Chapter XV. — Snakes and Lizards, - - 78 

Chapter XVI.— Frogs and Toads, - - 84 

Chapter XVII.— Fishes, ... 89 

Chapter XVIII.— Some Fishes, - - 95 

Chapter XIX.— Insects, - - 99 

Chapter XX.— Bees and Wasps, - - - 103 

Chapter XXI.— Ants, Grasshoppers and Butterflies, 10!) 
Chapter XXII.— Flies and Beetles, - - 114 

Chapter XXIII.— Spiders, - - - 120 



vi CONTENTS. 

Page. 

Chapter XXIV. — Worms and Snails, - 122 

Chapter XXV.— Some Tiny Creatures, - - 128 

PART II. — The Vegetable or Plant Kingdom. 

Chapter XXVI.— Plants and How they Grow, 131 

Chapter XXVII.— Plant Roots, - - 135 

Chapter XXVIII.— Plant Stems, - - 140 

Chapter XXIX. — Leaves, - - - 146 

Chapter XXX. — Some Curious Leaves, - 150 

Chapter XXXI — Flower-cups, - - - 155 

Chapter XXXII— How Flowers are Fertilized, 159 

Chapter XXXIII.— Fruits, - - 166 

Chapter XXXIV.— Wandering Seeds, - 174 

Chapter XXXV.— Parasitic Plants, - - 180 

PART III.-— The Mineral or Stone Kingdom. 

Chapter XXXVI.— Rocks and Stones, - 184 

Chapter XXXVII.— Pebbles and What They Tell, 190 

Chapter XXXVIII. — Sand and Sandstones, 195 

Chapter XXXIX. - Mud and Mud-Stones, - 199 

Chapter XL.— About Limestones, - - 203 

Chapter XLI. — Limestone Made Over, - - 208 

Chapter XL II.— Rocks Formed by Heat: Veins, 215 

Chapter XL I II. —A Talk About Coal, - - 221 

Chapter XLIV. — Pictures in the Rocks, - 226 

Chapter XLV.— Crystals, - - 234 

PART IV.— The Heavens. 

Chapter XL VI.— A Glance at the Sky, - - 239 

Chapter XL VII.— The Sun, - - 245 

Chapter XL VIII.— The Moon; Eclipses, - 251 

Chapter XL IX.— The Stars. - - - 258 

Chapter L. — Conclusion, - - - 264 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Page. 

Fig. 1.— Bony Skeleton of a Cow, - - 6 

Fig. 2.— Gorilla, .... 8 

Fig. 3.— Skeleton of Bat, - - - 13 

Fig. 4.— Plan of Mole's Dwelling, - - 15 

Fig. 5. — Weasel in its Winter Dress, - - 21 

Fig. 6.— Grizzly Bear, ... 23 

Fig. 7.— Stomach of Sheep, - - - 27 

Fig. 8.— Asiatic Elephant, 28 

Fig. 9. — Weaver Bird's Home, - - - 46 

Fig. 10.— White-headed Eagle, - - 53 

Fig. 11.— Box Tortoise— With Closed Shell. - 75 

Fig. 12. — River Tortoise or "Snapping Turtle," 77 

Fig. 13.— Rattlesnake's Skull Showing Fangs, - 79 

Fig. 14.— Rattlesnake, ... 80 

Fig. 15. — Tadpole Changes, - - - 85 

Fig. 16.— Skeleton of Frog, ... 85 

Fig. 17.— Skeleton of Fish, - - - 90 

Fig. 18.— Humble Bee and Honey Cells, - 105 

Fig. 19.— Tent Caterpillar Moth, - - - 113 

Fig. 20.— Mosquito, 116 

Fig. 21.— Stag-horn Beetle, - - 119 

Fig. 22.— Trichina in Flesh of Swine, - 126 

Fig. 23.— Chalk under the Microscope, - - 128 

Fig. 24.— Amoeba, .... 129 

Fig. 25. — Structure of Exogenous Stem, - - 143 

Fig. 26. — Structure of Endogenous Stem, 144 

Fig. 27.— Leaf, - ... . - 147 

Fig. 28.— Parts of a Typical Flower, - - 156 

Fig. 29.— Morning-glory Flower, - - 158 

Fig. 30.— Pollen Grain from Rose Mallow, - 159 



vm ILLUSTRATIONS. 

P»ge. 

Fig. 31.— Fossil Fern in Coal Slate, - - 222 

Fig. 32.— Ammonites, 227 

Fig. 33.— Crinoid or "Stone Lily," - - 228 

Fig. 34.— Encrinital Marble, 229 

Fig. 35.— Rain Drop Marks in Mud and Stone, - 232 

Fig. 36.— Ripple Marks in Stone, - - 233 

Fig. 37.— Cluster of Quartz Crystals, - - 237 

Fig. 38.— Diagram of Earth's Orbit, - - 248 

Fig. 39.— Diagram of Moon's Orbit, - - 253 

Fig. 40.— Star Cluster in Toucan, - - 262 

Fig. 41.— Annular Nebula, - - .263 




FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTION. 



|§&N THE course of a single day, such a great 
^JJ variety of things conies before our view, that 

? their names and definitions alone would fill a 
larger volume than this. Yet, they may all 
be classed in two clearly defined groups. Every 
object is either a natural or an artificial production; 
the former division including all those things that 
have not been in any way changed or operated upon 
by man; whereas, artificial things, are those that are 
made from natural materials, through human instru- 
mentality. Wood, iron and stone are natural 
products of the earth; but a house made of such 
materials is an artificial thing. The horses that 
draw our vehicles are animals, and animals constitute 
one of the largest divisions of natural objects; but 
the wagon, which they pull, and the harness, by 

which they are attached, are artificial products, 
2 



2 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

having been manufactured through the agency of 

man. 

In the course of this little book, we hope to devote 

some attention to the first class of things, or natural 
objects — those that are produced without human 

intervention, through the operation of the laws of 
Nature. Nature, in our present sense, means that 
system and order of things about us which is inde- 
pendent of, and, indeed, superior to human action. 

Before man was placed on earth, there was day 
and night, summer and winter; the sun shone, and 
the rains fell; seeds sprouted, and flowers and fruits 
appeared in their proper season — these things are not 
controlled by man; they operate under the laws of 
Nature. Such laws have been in force since the far 
distant days of creation, when Jehovah spake, and as 
a result of His Almighty word, land and water were 
formed, the grass, and the herb and the fruit tree 
grew, and each yielded seed after its kind; the sun 
became visible in the heavens by day, and the moon 
and stars shed their inspiring rays over the sleeping 
earth; the fowl, the fish, creeping things and beasts 
came forth to enjoy the life allotted to them, and 
to accomplish the object of their existence. Such 
mighty deeds were done through the word of God, 
in accordance with His righteous will; yet man says 
these things were natural occurrences, — taking place 
in obedience to the laws of Nature. Nature then is 
but another name for the will of God; that which 
He decrees is done; His will is the law of existence. 
Look around the world and behold the uncounted 



INTRODUCTION. 3 

results of His omnipotent labors; — the things of 
Nature have been called the thoughts of God — they 
are indeed an embodiment and a realization of His 
all-wise designs. By learning the use and purposes 
of things, to a small degree, at least, we grasp the 
idea of their Creator; and to do this is to become 
truly wise. From the simplest objects, oftentimes 
the deepest lessons may be learned: 

"The waves that moan along the shore, 

The winds that sigh in blowing, 

Are sent to teach a mystic lore 

Which men are wise in knowing." 

The broad pages of Nature's book are open for us 
all to read; but, like the schoolboy, poring over his 
simple lesson, we can study best with the assistance 
of a skillful teacher; and the wisest instructor is the 
Author of that great volume. Careful thought and 
prayerful study, are the mystic raps, before which 
the doors of Wisdom's temple swing, and by which 
that sacred edifice is opened for our use. Let us 
knock and gladly enter, remembering ever the 
sanctity of the place, and the holiness of our sur- 
roundings. 

Confining our attention now to the class of natural 
things, as distinguished from others which are the 
products of human art, the objects of interest that 
present themselves for our study, are so numerous, 
that they bewilder us by their variety. It is best, 
therefore, that we follow some system or method of 
classification in our dealing with such a multitude of 
things. 

We are all familiar with the sight of horses and 



4 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

cattle, of dogs, butterflies and bees, and many other 
creatures which resemble, to some degree, one or the 
other of these; all such are called Animals. Besides 
these, we see trees and shrubs, grasses, flowers and 
weeds, all springing from the soil, and these we know 
under the name of Plants. And again, there are 
pebbles, and boulders, sand, gravel, and clay, all of 
which are called Stones. 

Every natural object belongs to one of these three 
groups, which, indeed, have been called the Three 
Kingdoms of Nature: 

1. The Animal Kingdom. 

2. The Vegetable or Plant Kingdom. 

3. The Mineral or &tone Kingdom. 

Animals all live, grow, and move, though some 
much more freely than others, and all feed on plants, 
or other animals. Plants live and grow also, deriving 
their nourishment from the soil, water, and air. 
Minerals, however, do not live or grow at all, as 
do animals and plants; they need no food; the sum- 
mer's heat does not cause them to fade or faint; the 
frosts of winter do not kill them, for they are dead. 
A stone can be cut or broken in any shape, but the 
nature of the rock itself, is apparently unchanged 
thereby; while any such violence executed on a liviug 
thing would result in its death. 



Part I. 

Thie Animal Kingdom. 



"He prayeth best who loveth best 
All things both great and small: 

For the dear God who loveth us, 
He made and loveth all." 




CHAPTER II. 

ANIMALS. 

rSjHE Animal Kingdom comprises so many differ- 
ent forms and kinds, that we could not hope 
to learn even the names of all of them, 
though we should study for a very long time. 
For convenience, those who have considered the sub- 
ject before us, have classified animals according to 
their likeness or difference; all those that most closely 
resemble each other being said to belong to the same 
class. 

Some animals have hard, solid bones within their 

bodies, upon which the softer parts, such as the flesh, 

blood vessels, etc., are supported, as is the case with 

the cow, rat, snake, frog and fish; while others, like 

nsects, worms, and the like, have no bones at all. 



6 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

All the bones of an animal's body form what is called 
the skeleton. 




Fig. 1. — Bony Skeleton of a Cow. 

Figure 1 represents the skeleton of a cow; all the 
flesh having been removed from the body of the 
animal before the drawing was made. Examine it 
carefully, and compare it with the skeletons of other 
animals such as frogs and fishes,shown in figures 16 and 
17. If we look closely at such a bony skeleton, it will 
be seen that all the bones seem to be connected with 
the back bone or spine, which is in fact a long chain 
of bones extending from the head throughout the 
whole length of the animal's neck and back. Such 
animals are called Vertebrates, a word meaning 
"back-boned;" other animals are called Invertebrates 
or "non-back- boned." 

It is remarkable, too, that all. vertebrates have red 
blood in their bodies, while the invertebrates have 
none. Think for a moment of this difference as it 
exists between a cat and a butterfly; the body of the 
former bleeds even if the skin be but just cut 
through; but if the latter be accidentally crushed, 
only a colorless watery juice is found within its body. 



APES AND MONKEYS. 7 

Vertebrates, then, are animals with bones and red 
blood in their bodies; and invertebrates are animals 
having no bones within, and no true blood. 

But vertebrates are not alike in all particulars. 
Some of them, as cats or fowls always seem warm 
to us when we touch them; and such, in consequence, 
are called warm-blooded animals; while others, as 
the snake, the lizard and the toad are almost repul- 
sively cold to the touch, and may be appropriately 
named cold-blooded animals. 




CHAPTER III. 

APES AND MONKEYS. 

gSSjfj^OST of us are somewhat acquainted with 
these peculiar and interesting creatures, from 
having watched them in their playful gam- 
bols and funny tricks in the menageries. A 
common variety living in Western Africa is the 
Chimpanzee, a monkey measuring about four feet 
high when standing erect. Another monkey, with 
a very peculiar name, and really the largest of the 
whole tribe is the Orang-outang, some specimens 
reaching a height of six feet if measured while 
standing on the hind legs. 

But the strongest and fiercest of the whole monkey 
tribe is the terrible Gorilla, also an African animal. 
A good representation of this creature is given in 
figure 2. The gorilla is of a savage, cruel disposi- 



3 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



tion; and travelers are anxious not to disturb it in its 
haunts, unless they are well prepared for fight. Its 
strength is so great that the creature can break off, 



rsx 







Fig. 2.— Gorilla, 
with apparent ease, large branches from trees; and it 
is recorded, by good authority, that a gorilla has 



APES AND MONKEYS. 9 

been known to kill a hunter with a single blow from 
its powerful paw; and then to twist and flatten the 
rifle barrel of its fallen victim as if the weapon were 
made of wax. Note in the picture (figure 2) the 
savage expression; the low, retreating forehead, and 
the large protruding mouth with its sharp teeth. 
Look carefully at the animal's feet; the inner toe on 
each is apart from the rest, very much like a thumb. 
This feature is of great service to the beast in 
climbing, as it can grasp the boughs of trees more 
firmly. 

The monkeys already named, are among the most 
remarkable of this peculiar tribe of animals. Those 
mentioned, are all tail-less; and are sometimes called 
by the general name of apes. They usually live 
together in small families, each little company 
appearing very selfish and unsociable, in permitting 
visits from others, upon its own domain. They live 
mostly on nuts, fruits, and various kinds of vegetable 
food, which their native forests produce in abundance. 

Many other varieties of monkeys, smaller than the 
apes, are to be found in the warm parts of both 
hemispheres, living mostly in trees, and feeding upon 
fruits, nuts, and insects. Unlike the apes, these 
smaller monkeys usually congregate in large herds. 
They seem to be of a jolly disposition — leaping and 
playing among the branches, and all the time chatter- 
ing in a truly ludicrous and noisy manner. In 
some species, as for instance, the spider monkey of 
South America — named from its long, sprawling legs 
and slender body — the tail is so long that it can be 



10 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

twisted round the tree, and thus serve as an aid to 
the animal in climbing. The end of the tail is 
destitute of hair, and so sensitive, that it is used to 
hold small objects, such as fruit and eggs. 

On each of the monkey's feet, the inside toe, which 
we may call the great toe, is spread apart from the 
others, somewhat like our own thumbs, for which 
reason, monkeys are sometimes called Quadruma- 
nous, or four handed animals. They can grasp objects 
with the toes of the hind foot almost as well as with 
those of the front; but such motions are extremely 
clumsy, when compared with the almost perfect, 
action of the truly wonderful and graceful human 
hand. Some people claim that monkeys resemble 
men in many respects, and have even gone so far as 
to say that monkeys and men belong to the same 
family. Such extravagant statements as these are 
without doubt entirely unfounded. It is true that 
some monkeys stand on their hind feet at times, but 
none do so as a natural and common thing; and 
when they try to walk in that position, their move- 
ments are very awkward and unsteady. The gorilla 
stands erect when striking at an enemy; but this is 
no characteristic resemblance to human habit, for 
bears frequently assume a somewhat similar position 
when fighting. An ape's natural walk is on all fours, 
the front paws being clenched, so that the knuckles 
rest on the ground, and the soles of the hind feet 
in most cases, partly turned toward each other. 
No comparison of close resemblance, therefore, is 
admissible between such positions and the stately 



APES AND MONKEYS. 11 

posture and graceful bearing of a human being. 
Man alone naturally and uniformly walks erect — his 
head nearest heaven, and his eyes, embracing within 
their vision, the sky with its countless glittering 
worlds, as well as the ground, with its soil and 
flowers. The bones of the monkey's body — especially 
the hip bones — are of such a shape that an upright 
position would be positively painful to the animal, if 
prolonged. The skull is so different in each case, 
that no one could mistake a human head for that of 
an ape. 

What connection is there between the clear intel- 
ligence of the human countenance, and the dog-like 
face of the baboon; between man with his heavenly 
gifts of speech and song, his buildings, railways and 
ships, and the chattering gambols of the monkey, or 
the savage strength of the gorilla! We are the 
children of God, and bear no relationship with the 
animals, except in the common features of mortality. 
Our bodies, while in this earthly state, need food, 
and air, and water, as do theirs, and we are subject 
to disease and death as are they; but the soul of 
man is the direct offspring of Deity; our Father 
has told us so; but sacred writ does not record such 
parentage of the ape. Words of inspired truth 
declare that in the eyes of the Lord, a righteous 
man, though mortal, is but little below the angels. 
Then let us not assert that our Father's children are 
scarcely above the monkeys; for such is not true. 



12 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

CHAPTER IV. 

INSECTIVOROUS ANIMALS. 

©r&T is common to classify animals according to the 
&J food of which they seem to be most fond. 
WS Among quadrupeds, such as feed largely on 
Y insects are called Insectivorous Animals; those 
whose principal diet consists of the flesh of other 
animals are said to be Carnivorous; while plant 
eaters are called Herbivorous Animals. We shall 
speak of some members of each of these classes. 

A common insectivorous animal with which we are 
familiarly acquainted is the Bat, often erroneously 
called bat-mouse or flitter-mouse. Because this 
peculiar little creature flies only at night, and loves 
to live in quiet, dark places, such as old and deserted 
houses and the like, and moreover, because according 
to our sense of beauty it is not particularly hand- 
some, we are very apt to look upon it as an ill- 
omened creature, and to shudder at its mere presence. 
Let us put aside such prejudices for a time, and 
watch the little fellow with care and interest, and 
without doubt we shall learn something of value. 
Although the bat flies in the air, it has no real con- 
nection with the birds; it is not produced from an 
egg like birds; its body is covered with a kind of 
hair or fur, not feathers; and its so-called wings are 
very different from the true wings of birds. 

Here is a skeleton of a bat (Fig. 3), which I 
prepared by placing the body of a dead bat near a 



INSECTIVOROUS ANIMALS. 13 




Fig. 3.— Skeleton of a Bat. 

nest of large ants; those little insects very soon 
removed the flesh and left the bones clean and white. 
Look at the bones of the front limb, they are very 
much elongated; and in a living specimen a thin skin 
or membrane* passes from one to the other, and is 
attached to the side of the body between the front 
and hind legs forming a kind of web. By expanding 
and flitting this the creature is able to move quite 
rapidly through the air. The bat has no beak like a 
bird, and in its mouth is a full set of teeth, while 
birds have none. 

It loves to feed on insects that fly at twilight; 
and to catch these it curves that part of the wing- 
membrane between the hind feet and the tail into a 



* If this membrane be spread out and carefully examined 
with the microscope while the bat is alive, a truly wonder- 
ful sight is revealed. Countless little blood vessels are 
seen filled with blood flowing steadily along like red wine 
through a pipe. 



14 FJRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

kind of net, which in the course of the animal's rapid 
flight collects the insects that come in its way. 
During the day-time, when the light would be alto- 
gether too bright for its eyes, the bat remains in its 
dark haunts, suspended by its hooked claws head 
downward As the cold weather approaches, it seeks 
some sheltered nook, hangs itself up by its claws, and 
falls into a deep sleep, remaining dormant till the 
return of spring. Animals which thus sleep away 
the winter are said to hibernate. 

Bats are very attentive to their young; a baby bat 
is often seen clinging by its claws to its mother's 
body while she is flitting through the air catching 
insects for supper. 

Wherever insects are so numerous as to be trouble- 
some, bats must be regarded as true friends to man; 
and as such they should be protected, rather than 
ruthlessly murdered by cruel boys, as is often the 
case, while elder ones look on with indifference, 
believing the animals to be but worthless pests. 

A very large variety of bat called the vampire is 
found in the tropical parts of America, often attain- 
ing a spread of wings from three to four feet. This 
animal delights to dine on fresh blood drawn from 
the bodies of living animals; to obtain which it 
usually approaches its victims while they sleep; and 
after making a very small puncture in the skin, 
leisurely sucks the blood therefrom. Though the 
wound can scarcely be seen, the amount of blood 
drawn is often considerable. Without doubt, how- 
ever, the stories so often told of vampires sucking the 



INSECTIVOROUS ANIMALS. 



15 



blood from men and large animals until their victims 
expire are wild exaggerations. 

A large bat called the Kalong is found in Java. 
Its wings when extended often measure five feet from 
tip to tip. Its head is shaped very much like that 
of a fox; and from this characteristic it is often 
spoken of as the fox-bat. Thi^ peculiar animal is 
not insectivorous in its habits; it feeds mostly on 
fruits, and makes its presence unpleasantly known 
among the people by plundering their winter stores 
of fruits and vegetables, if not carefully protected. 

The Mole is also mostly insectivorous in its diet, 
though it feeds also on worms. By the aid of its 
broad snout and wide spreading feet it readily digs 
long underground passages leading from its dwelling 
place in different directions. It constructs its home 
in the most ingenious manner, there being three 
passages leading from the nest proper to the main 
run; so that the animal has several avenues of escape 
if attacked in its stronghold. 




Fig. 4.— Plan of Mole's Dwelling. 

In figure 4 the plan of a mole's home is sketched, 
showing the central castle and the passages connected 
therewith. 

Mole-skins are prized on account of their soft, tine 



16 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

fur, and in consequence these little creatures are 
killed in great numbers. This is to be regretted; for 
without doubt the mole is of far greater benefit than 
detriment to farmers, feeding voraciously as it does 
on the larvae or grubs which would eventually de- 
velop into destructive insects. The skillful manner 
in which the animal burrows through the ground, 
has probably furnished man with valuable hints 
regarding the shape of his shovels and plows. 

Pope says: 

"Learn of the mole to plow, the worm to weave." 

Many of the smallest among the so-called field- 
mice are in reality shrews — useful little insect 
hunters, frequenting our meadows and fields. The 
true field-mice are, however, destructive animals and 
very injurious to the farmer, devouring, as they do, 
grain and roots in large quantities. Of these some- 
thing will be said in another chapter. 



CHAPTER V. 

CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS. 

aJjNIMALS that devour others are called Car- 
nivorous or Flesh-eating Animals. The class 
is a very large one, including some of our 
domestic pets as well as many of the most 
ferocious of the whole animal kingdom. 

THE CAT FAMILY. 

The common house cat is the domestic representa- 




CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS. 17 

tive of a very distinguished family. Most of pussy's 
kindred, however, are larger and more to be feared 
than herself; such as the wild cat, jaguar, leopard, 
panther, tiger, and lion. All of these have their 
paws soft and cushioned, so that they can steal, 
with noiseless step, upon their victims. Their claws 
are sharp and curved, well adapted both for holding 
and tearing their prey; and when not in use, these 
weapons are kept carefully enclosed in sheaths within 
the foot, by which means their sharpness is preserved. 
The tongue is covered with many rough points, 
almost as hard as horn, by the aid of which some of 
the family, such as the lion and tiger, are able to lick 
clean the flesh from the bones of the animals upon 
which they feed. They use their rough tongues also 
as curry-combs for smoothing and cleaning their skins. 
Let us observe, carefully, the sly and silent manner 
in which a cat steals upon a mouse or a bird, the 
patient way in which she watches for hours beside a 
mouse-hole — then notice the swift leap — meaning in 
nearly every case death to the unfortunate victim — 
and we will have a fair idea of the manner in which 
the fierce lion, and the dreaded tiger, the savage 
leopard and the cruel panther hunt and kill their 
prey. 

The Lion, though usually measuring less than ten 
feet in length, is so powerful as to be able to treat a 
cow or a man, as a cat does a rat. A heavy, shaggy 
mane covers the neck of the male, giving the animal 
a most dignified and stately appearance, from which 
circumstance he has been named "King of Beasts." 



18 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

The lioness is smaller than her mate, and is destitute 
of a mane. 

The Tiger is found only in Asia, and chiefly in 
India. It grows usually about three feet in height, 
and eight feet in length, and its body is beautifully 
striped in dark-yellow and black. When disturbed 
in its native haunts, it is a ferocious beast. In one 
year nine hundred and seventeen men are said to have 
been killed by tigers in British India alone. 

THE DOG FAMILY. 

The ordinary dog owns many relatives among wild 
animals, such as wolves, foxes, hyenas, and others. 
The teeth of these animals resemble to a certain 
extent those of the cat tribe; but the so-called eye 
teeth are very long and sharp, so much so that some 
people call the corresponding teeth in other animals, 
especially if long — "canines" or "dog teeth." The 
claws in all of them are much thicker and less sharp 
than among the felines, and cannot be retracted or 
drawn into the foot. 

Even among tame dogsthere are many and widely 
different kinds. Compare, for instance, the majestic 
Newfoundland, with the frisking little terrier; or the 
thick-set bulldog, with the slender and swift-footed 
greyhound; look upon the broad face and rounded 
head of the mastiff, and then upon the long cranium 
and pointed nose of the fox-hound. The dog is in 
truth a companion to man. Wherever man has 
gone — to the frozen regions round the poles, as well 
as through the burning wastes and tangled forests of 
the tropics, the dog has followed and served his mas- 



CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS. 19 

ter. The attachment of the dog to man amounts to 
a true passion. Many a noble hound has lost his life 
rather than suffer injury to come to his charge. He 
considers a kind word and a friendly caress full reward 
for almost any sacrifice or exertion. 

The Wolf is in size about equal to a large dog; and 
of a savage and ravenous disposition. Wolves generally 
hunt in packs or companies, and so frequently kill 
and devour larger animals than a single wolf would 
dare attack. They wage great destruction among 
sheep, calves and other farm animals. The Grey 
Wolf is widely distributed over the thinly settled 
parts of Asia, Europe and America. The Prairie 
Wolf or Coyote is much smaller and less ferocious, 
and is found on the plains and prairies west of the 
Mississippi. 

The Fox is readily distinguished from the other 
members of the dog tribe by its long bushy tail and 
pointed nose. It is a typical farm-yard thief, seem- 
ing to look upon all chickens, turkeys, ducks and the 
like as if created for its own special use. Though 
decidedly carnivorous in habit, it seems to enjoy a 
meal of ripe fruit occasionally. For craftiness and 
cunning it is proverbial. In many parts of Europe 
fox hunting is regarded as a fine sport, in spite of its 
cruelty. Dogs are trained to hunt the fox — mostly 
by scent; and in eluding its pursuers the crafty crea- 
ture resorts to many pretty tricks. When closely 
followed it will often double on its track, so as to 
baffle the hounds by throwing them off the course; 
it has been seen to leap to the top of a fence or hedge 



20 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

and run along for a considerable distance, thereby 
leaving no track which can be followed by the dogs 
along the ground; it will sometimes run through a 
flock of sheep, apparently thinking the dogs will fail 
to follow the track among so many. When the 
hounds are close upon it, the fox will often drop flat 
behind some fallen tree or large rock while the dogs, 
unable to check their headlong flight, rush past. 
Some observers say that if caught alive the sly crea- 
ture will lie as if dead, and even allow itself to be 
severely treated without betraying the trick; but as 
soon as a chance of escape offers itself, it scampers 
away. The cunning of the fox is a gift to it from 
the Creator, whereby it may escape from its cruel 
and bloodthirsty foes. 

Jackals and Hyenas are met with in the warmer 
parts of the Old World; and are of great good as 
scavengers, devouring large quantities of offal and 
other decaying and offensive matter. They seem to 
possess a little of the fox's cunning, with much of 
the wolf's savageness, and the lion's daring. 

THE WEASEL FAMILY. 

The Weasel family, including weasels, pine-martens, 
otters, skunks, minks and sables, are all small slender 
animals, and mostly nocturnal, or night-roving, in 
their habits. Some of the most valuable furs, as the 
Siberian sable and ermine are obtained from these 
graceful little creatures. Weasels furnish the ermine 
— long used in England to decorate the official robes 
of judges. The fur of these animals undergoes remark- 
able variations in color at different seasons- beino- 

J to 



CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS. 



21 



brownish on the upper parts and white below during 
the summer months, but turning uniformly white as 
winter approaches, and resuming its dull hue again 
in the spring. The hair is not shed to produce these 



:t>Mli ft , 




v. ^ k 



Fig. 5. — The Weasel in its winter dress. 

alterations, but actually changes color. In warm 
countries, where winter cold is scarcely known the 
weasel retains one color throughout the year. 

Figure 5 represents this slender and beautiful 
creature, bedecked in its snowy winter costume. 

The sleep of the weasel is so deep that the animal 
may be readily caught if surprised in slumber, ,and 
hence the comparison so often used when speaking of 
an easy task — "like catching a weasel asleep." 

Otters feed mostly on fish and as we would natur- 
ally expect, they live generally near the water. They 
are attractive little animals, though but rarely met 



22 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

with in these parts. It is amusing to watch them 
engaging in their favorite sport of coasting, — down a 
steep snow bank in the winter, or a slide of slippery 
clay in the warmer seasons; seemingly with all the 
gusto of a crowd of merry boys with sleds. Animals 
appreciate fun as well as we. 

The otter's eyes are tolerably close together, 
and are located low on the head so that with a 
very slight movement it can see in any direction. 
This wise provision assists the animal greatly while 
fishing. 

The Skunk is found only in North America. Its 
skin is singularly striped lengthwise in white and 
black or dark-brown; but the creature is most re- 
markable for its power of emitting, when disturbed 
or angered, a most offensive odor, absolutely un- 
endurable by other animals. It retires to its burrow 
fat and sleek as the winter approaches, and remains 
there till spring, when it reappears in a pitifully 
gaunt and hungry state. 

THE BEAR FAMILY. 

There are many varieties of bears of which the 
Grizzly Bear of the Rocky Mountains is the most 
powerful and ferocious. Its stout and non-retractable 
claws often measure six inches in length, and its 
strength is so great, that the animal has been known 
to carry off the carcass of a buffalo weighing over a 
thousand pounds. When hungry or attacked, the 
grizzly bear is regarded as the most formidable of 
North American wild beasts. The Indians consider 
it a great feat to kill a grizzly; and the successful 



CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS. 23 

hunter usually wears the claws around his neck as a 
mark of honor. 




Fig. 6.— Grizzly Bear. 

Fig. 6 shows the general appearance of this beast. 
It has derived its name from the peculiar color of its 
hair, which is a mixture of black and grizzly gray. 
As seen in the picture, the animal walks on the flat 
part of its foot, leaving the impression of its broad 
sole, together with that of its long claws in soft 
ground, the imprint looking not unlike that of a very 
large human hand. 

The American Black Bear is a much smaller 
animal than its fiercer brother already described; but 
if compelled to defend itself or to protect its young 
it will fight desperately. Though classed among 
carnivorous or flesh-eating animals, it feeds largely 
on fruit if such be obtainable. It is especially fond 
of honey, and will frequently venture to assail the 
nests of wild bees to satisfy its taste for sweets. 



24 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

The grizzly bear shows these same traits to some 
extent. 

The Polar Bear of the frigid regions is the largest 
of the bear tribe. The soles of its broad feet are 
covered with long coarse hair, by which the animal 
gains a firmer footing on the ice fields and plains of 
frozen snow of its arctic home. 

The Raccoon or "coon" as it is sometimes called, 
is an American animal, about the size of an ordinary 
dog, and in general appearance suggestive of a small 
bear, if its long tail be not taken into account. It 
is not wholly carnivorous, feeding on roots and 
fruits as well as birds, eggs, small quadrupeds and 
fish. 



CHAPTER VI. 

HERBIVOROUS ANIMALS OR PLANT-EATERS. 

Sfs^HE perfect manner in which every part of the 
jj§2/(y body of these animals is adapted to their 

¥ habits of life, is another proof of the infinite 
wisdom of the Creator. Instead of long, 
pointed teeth, like those of the dog and the lion, 
suitable only for holding their struggling prey while 
writhing in death agony, the plant-eating animals 
have wide chisel-like teeth in front, and broad, flat 
grinders behind, fitted admirably for cropping the 
herbage, and grinding the grass and seeds which form 
their food. Their feet are clad in hard, tough hoofs, 
either solid as in the case of the horse, or divided 



HERBIVOROUS ANIMALS. 25 

evenly into two toes, as with oxen, sheep, goats, deer 
and camels, or formed in a greater number of toes as 
in the case if the gigantic elephant, rhinoceros and 
hippopotamus. 

THE HORSE FAMILY. 

The Horse is thought by some to be the most 
graceful of all quadrupeds. It has become indis- 
pensable in the service of man. Wonderfully 
sagacious, and closely attached in its feelings to those 
who care for it, it is at once a companion and a ser- 
vant. For such a trusty follower, man may well be 
thankful; and he should show such thanks by treat- 
ing the animal with due kindness and consideration. 
A properly trained horse can always be governed 
more easily by a gentle word than by the lash. 
There are many kinds of horses, with very different 
appearance, as will readily be believed by comparing 
the large, heavy-set cart horse with the slender racer 
and the pretty little Shetland pony. The digestive 
organs of the horse are arranged so as to allow the 
process of digestion to go on in an uninterrupted 
manner, thus fitting the animal for more continuous 
movement. 

The Ass or Donkey is in general form and habit 
related to the horse, though smaller and more hardy. 
It feeds upon the coarse forms of herbage, and is of 
an extremely patient disposition, fitting it for long 
continued work. As a pack animal it is of great 
service, and can carry with apparent ease a surpris- 
ingly heavy burden; but drivers are too apt to over- 
load the poor beast, and cause it suffering. 



26 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

The Zebra runs wild in Southern Africa, and 
though greatly resembling the horse is readily dis- 
tinguished by the beautiful stripes of white and black 
with which its body is covered and by its wild and 
fractious disposition. It is said that no zebra has 
ever yet been tamed. 

THE OX FAMILY. 

The animals included here are the ox, sheep, goat 
deer, camel and their relatives, and among the whole 
range of the animal creation, these are of the great- 
est value and service to man. From them he obtains 
milk and meat for his food, leather for his shoes and 
hair and wool for his clothing; besides tallow, horn 
and bones. Many of them, too, are his willing and 
efficient beasts of burden. All of them subsist 
exclusively on vegetable food and have cloven hoofs. 

They are frequently called Ruminants or Cud- 
chewers, from a peculiarity which they show in 
eating. To understand this more readily, let us 
examine the stomach of an ox or a sheep, as an 
illustration of the strange digestive organs of the 
whole family. 

The appearance is well represented in figure 7, the 
upper picture showing an external view, and the 
lower one the appearance after partial dissection As 
is there shown, the stomach consists of several 
cavities, looking, in fact, like separate stomachs. 
When the animal swallows, the half chewed food 
passes through the gullet, or oesophagus (o), into the 
first stomach or paunch (/?); and after becoming- 
moist and soft it passes to the second cavity (b), 



HERBIVOROUS ANIMALS. 



27 




Fig. 7.— Stomach of a Sheep. 



called from its complicated structure the "honey-comb 

stomach." Here, by the 
movements of the stom- 
ach the food is rolled in- 
to balls, which are then 
passed one by one again 
into the mouth after the 
animal has ceased feed- 
ing and is at rest. The food 
is now thoroughly mas- 
\p ticatedand then swallow- 
ed again, passing this 
time through a valve near 
the end of the oesophagus 
tube, directly into the 
third stomach (/*), called by some the "manyplies," 
because the inner surface is roughened by numerous 
folds of the lining membrane; and thence after a 
short interval into the fourth cavity (c), each process 
more completely effecting the digestion of the food. 
The ability to eat rapidly, depending for com- 
plete mastication upon subsequent chewing is of great 
practical use especially to the wild animals of this 
order. Nearly all plant-eating animals are eagerly 
hunted for food by the bloodthirsty, carnivorous 
creatures already spoken of; most are also of a shy 
and timid disposition, unfitted to defend themselves 
against their savage foes at close quarters, and there- 
fore relying mostly in flight for safety. Beside this, 
they are certainly more exposed to attacks while 
feeding in open glades and pastures, than while hid- 



^8 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

den in their coverts and retreats. It is well, there- 
fore, that they can eat rapidly and hasten back to 
places of comparative safety. And yet, the food 
upon which they live requires thorough mastication 
before digestion can go properly on — and this is 
secured by the ruminating process. 

The interesting habits of the many species of deer, 
including the moose, reindeer, elk, red-deer and 
antelope, as well as the musk ox, bison, hump-backed 
camel and dromedary, and the longnecked giraffe, 
will form very interesting subjects for further read- 
ing and study. 

Beside those already named there are many other 
well known herbivorous animals worthy of our notice. 

The Elephant is represented in figure 8, and a good 
idea of the animal's size is to be gained by a compari- 
son with the picture of the man standing alongside. 




Fig. 8.— The Asiatic Elephant, 



HERBIVOROUS ANIMALS. 29 

This creature is the largest of all living quadrupeds, 
sometimes attaining a height of ten feet, and a 
weight of twelve thousand pounds. The head is 
extremely large and heavy, and to support it the 
neck is of necessity short and stout. When in a 
standing position, therefore, the animal is unable to 
reach the ground with its head; but to make up for 
this apparent inconvenience, it has a peculiar organ 
called the trunk, looking much like a long and 
very flexible nose. It serves in fact as a nose, as well 
as for numerous other purposes. By its means the 
elephant picks up food and conveys the same to his 
mouth; by suction he fills the trunk with water, and 
pours it down his throat. This simple organ is said 
to be composed of over forty thousand separate and 
distinct muscles, by the action of which the trunk 
can be placed in almost every conceivable position. 
It is so strong that by its aid the animal can root up 
large trees; and so sensitive at the point as to easily 
pick up a single grain of wheat or rice. The elephant 
is very intelligent and can be trained to be of great 
service to man. He can be taught to carry logs and 
stack them in order; or to lay stone or bricks in a 
wall as orderly as a mason could. Two large over- 
grown teeth called tusks, project from the upper jaw; 
these are the ivory so highly prized for ornaments. 
A pair of tusks often weigh two hundred pounds. 
The Rhinoceros, the Hippopotamus and the Tapir 
are large animals inhabiting only tropical regions 
and extremely interesting and instructive in their 
habits. 



30 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

THE HOG. 

Our common pig has a peculiarly shaped skull, 
adapting it for rooting in the ground. The skin is 
covered with long bristles, so stout as to be useful to 
the shoe and harness maker in sewing leather. The 
uncleanly habits of the animal are proverbial; and 
these are made the worse by the filthy surroundings 
among which pigs are usually confined. The flesh of 
the hog is used as an article of human food; though 
observation, experience and revelation unite to 
declare it unwholesome. Learned physicians and 
scientists of the day say that swine's flesh causes 
many disorders, and much sickness among those who 
use it. The food upon which the creature lives is 
very varied, and much of it is of a most unhealthful 
kind. It would seem that one object for which the 
hog was created, was to fill the office of a scavenger; 
devouring, as it does, large quantities of decaying 
matter, which otherwise would taint the air, water 
and soil, and thus favor the spread of disease. 

The wild boar, an untamed species of hog, is still 
found in the forests of Europe. Its chase and cap- 
ture have always been considered as agreeable sport. 
Another of the hog tribe, and a truly remarkable 
one at that, is the Babirusa Hog, or Hog Deer, a 
native of Java and Borneo. Its upper canine teeth 
are greatly prolonged, and curved backward, so as to 
form a protection to the eyes when the creature is 
running through the bushes. 



RODENTS OR GNAWING ANIMALS. 31 

CHAPTER VII. 

RODENTS OR GNAWING ANIMALS. 

33E9SS their name indicates, these animals are noted 
§jfc& for their biting or gnawing propensities; and 

¥they may easily be recognized by the peculiarity 
of their teeth. In all of them, such as mice, 
rats, squirrels, etc., the two front teeth of each jaw are 
very long; the outer part of each tooth consists mainly 
of the hard white substance called enamel — the hardest 
substance to be found in the animal body in fact, 
while the inner or back portion is of a much softer 
material. The result of such an arrangement is that 
the teeth, though worn by constant use, always pre- 
sent a sharp edge, the hard enamel forming the cut- 
ting part. Unlike the case of most animals, a rodent's 
teeth grow as fast as they are worn away, and they are 
therefore in constant working order, unless an accident 
befall the animal and one or more of the teeth be 
broken out. In such a case the opposing tooth grows 
uninterruptedly, causing the animal serious incon- 
venience. 

The writer has in his possession a rabbit's skull in 
which the lower front teeth have attained a length 
of nearly two inches, through the corresponding 
upper teeth having been broken out by an accident, 
so that there was no check to the growth of the lower 
gnawers. The body from which the specimen was 
obtained, bore every evidence that the rabbit had 



32 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

died of starvation — most likely as a result of such 
unfortunate accident. 

Mice and Rats exist in greater variety than any 
other class of quadrupeds, and include some of 
the smallest. House-mice, field-mice, harvest- 
mice, and jumping-mice are familiar acquaint- 
ances at home and on the farm. The last named, 
though less frequently seen than most of the others, 
is an exceedingly interesting and active little creature. 
Its body is not more than from two and a half to 
three inches in length, while its tail is more than 
twice as long. It moves by long and rapid leaps, 
and is so agile in many of its movements that the 
observer's eye is scarcely able to follow it. 

Our domestic friend, the House-Mouse is a graceful 
and indeed a pretty animal, and could we but put 
aside our inborn prejudices for a time, we would 
indeed consider it such. Its slender build, smooth 
glossy skin, beautiful lustrous eyes, and engaging 
ways would commend it to favorable notice. It has 
been in many cases trained as a pet, coming at the 
call of its master, taking food from his hand and 
playfully submitting to his caresses. Contrary to 
common thought, mice are extremely cleanly in their 
habits; but as they indulge so unreservedly in attacks 
upon our pantry stores, we prefer them outside the 
house. With their chisel-edged teeth they can 
readily cut an entrance through the sides of cup- 
boards and cases, and then they feast upon the con- 
tents at leisure. 

Among rats the brown rat and the muskrat are 



RODENTS OR GNAWING ANIMALS. 33 

common with us in these regions; and occasionally 
the black rat is met with. This last was formerly 
the most common of all, infesting alike houses, 
barns and stores; but it seems now fast becom- 
ing extinct through the cruel and persistent attacks 
of the brown rat. It is an interesting creature, 
exhibiting great sagacity, a deep attachment for its 
young and a warm affection for others of its kind. 
It has been asserted by Dr. Franklin, whose trust- 
worthiness as an observer will pass without question, 
that he once watched a company of rats migrating in 
search of a new home; and that among the party he 
saw a rat carefully leading a blind comrade by a 
twig held between its teeth. The muskrat is a 
common inhabitant of our brooks and ponds. It 
grows usually about a foot in length, exclusive of the 
tail, which is usually as long as the body. The 
animals very frequently prove annoying and injurious 
to the farmer by burrowing into the banks of his 
irrigating canals. They build their winter homes of 
rushes and sticks, oftentimes from three to four feet 
high, the entrance being below water and leading to 
a dry and warm apartment in the upper story. The 
skins of muskrats are valuable, the fur being used in 
trimming winter clothing, under the name of River 
Sable Fur. 

The Pouched Bat, often called the Pocket Gopher, 
makes its presence known by its extensive under- 
ground burrows. On the outside of its face are large 
cheek pouches — not connected with the mouth, but 
in reality pockets in the skin; which in some cases 



34 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

extend back as far as the shoulders. These are use- 
ful in collecting and carrying food. 

The Beaver is among the largest of the gnawing, 
or rodent family; and was once to be found in almost 
all North American streams; but it has been hunted 
and trapped for the sake of its skin, so persistently, 
that it is fast becoming extinct. The fur is reddish 
brown in color, and of a very fine, soft texture. The 
tail is flat and scaly, and of great service to the 
animal while swimming. By means of their sharp 
and very powerful teeth, beavers can readily and 
rapidly cut down large trees, which they have the 
ingenuity to fell in such a way as to cause them to 
fall directly into the water so as to be borne by the 
current to the spot desired. Of these trees, together 
with rushes, sticks and earth, the animals build large 
and substantial dams across the streams; thereby 
forming deep water places, around which they build 
their dwellings — one story always being above water, 
with the entrance below. 

Squirrels are extremely active and pretty creatures, 
with their long ears, bright eyes, glossy skins and 
superb bushy tails. They live mostly on trees, 
feeding on fruits and nuts, of which they are careful 
to lay up an ample store for winter use. It is an 
interesting sight to watch a squirrel perched on its 
haunches holding an acorn or a nut between its front 
paws, and all the while nibbling at the hard shell. 
After a time a clean-cut hole is made through the 
shell and the little fellow falls to work upon the 
kernel with evident relish. It is said that in collect- 



RODENTS OR GNAWING ANIMALS. 35 

ing winter supplies the squirrel takes each nut singly 
in its paws and judges from the weight whether the 
shell encloses a good kernel or is but empty; 
in the one case it is stored away; in the other it 
is rejected. If alarmed, a squirrel will run with 
wondrous agility up the nearest tree, and then leap 
from branch to branch, or even from one tree to 
another with surprising speed. 

Flying Squirrels have a thin skin extending along 
the side of the body from the front to the hind legs. 
By expanding this while in the act of jumping they 
are able to make greater leaps than would otherwise 
be possible. Perhaps their large bushy tails are also of 
assistance in jumping. 

The charming little Striped Squirrel or chipmunk 
of our hills, fields and bench lands is provided with 
cheek pouches connected with its mouth, in which it 
carries its food to its nest, either for immediate or 
future consumption. 

The Prairie Dog is perhaps the quaintest little 
animal of the whole squirrel kind, and is to be found 
on our western plains and dry deserts, living in 
underground burrows. Usually large numbers con- 
gregate in the same locality, constituting what is 
called a Prairie Dog Village. They seem to be very 
inquisitive little creatures, frequently to be seen sitting 
on their haunches outside their burrows and watching 
with apparent concern the passers-by; but at the 
least sign of danger, with a rapid motion each little 
fellow dives into his hole, at the same time uttering 
a short, sharp bark or yelp, from which circumstance 



36 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the name of prairie dog has been bestowed. The 
members of a Dog Village seem to act in such perfect 
order and system as to lead many people to think 
that they are a regularly organized community. 




CHAPTER VIII. 

THE BIRDS. 

^fSMONG the most pleasing and interesting sub- 
(tjttJ> jects of the whole animal kingdom are the 
birds. Their beautiful plumage, graceful 
actions, and, above all, their inspiring songs, 
combine to charm even the least susceptible among 
us. And then, what an infinite diversity in form 
and habit, they present to our view! Look upon the 
majestic eagle, soaring in dreamy state through the 
medium of the "upper deep," or standing in grave 
supremacy on a rugged mountain cliff; then con- 
template, in contrast, the flitting, flashing, darting 
humming-bird, scarce larger than your thumb; yet 
presenting a wider variety of colors, and finer com- 
binations and contrasts in tint, than could be 
brought together by the hand of a master artist, on 
a canvass many times its size. Does not Nature 
delight in true beauty and wide variety? 

Watch for a moment, the wood-thrush, or the 
robin, mounted high, and greeting with joyous soug, 
the sun's return. See its little breast throb as if 
about to burst with melody; its whole body intoxi- 



THE BIRDS. 87 

cated with the harmony of its hymn. Is it not to 
us a fair example of thankful prayer for all the 
blessings of light and warmth, of happiness and of 
life? 

Who taught these birds to sing? Surely one who 
rejoices in the musical mysteries of those happy 
songs, who knows the deep import of every note, and 
takes delight therein. What unbounded trust and 
implicit faith that little bird possesses, relying with 
full confidence, upon the providing care of its Maker; 
as if knowing well that without His knowledge, not 
one of its family falls to the ground. Surely this 
world is a much better and more cheerful place for the 
presence of birds. Then, let the happy songsters be 
protected among us. Boys, check your reckless love for 
the slaughter of such innocents as these; never set 
your target-gun or catapult against one of them; it 
is a barbarous nature that can be satisfied only by 
blood. Life is a mysterious and God given power — 
a power, 

"Which all can take, but none can give," 
and everything possessed of life, should be sacred to 
us all. 

Observe the great care and the provident concern 
with which the Creator has fashioned the bird's body 
in all its parts. Being intended primarily for flight, 
the structure combines muscular strength with small 
bulk and great lightness. The air taken into the 
bird's lungs spreads itself throughout the body, and 
even enters the bones, which are made hollow for 
this purpose; so that when a bird takes a full breath 



38 FIRST BOOK OP' NATURE. 

its whole body is inflated and thus well prepared for 
aerial travel. The muscles operating the wings are 
comparatively large and remarkably strong; and this 
is especially true of birds that fly much. Compare 
for instance the pectoral muscles on the breast of the 
wild duck with those of a domestic fowl — in the 
former case the flesh is dark colored and well sup- 
plied with blood to nourish those much used parts, 
whereas the chicken's breast is white and compara- 
tively bloodless through disuse. 

Look now at the feathers covering the bird's body; 
a moment's careful study of these simple appendages 
will not prove to be entirely without value. A large 
quill feather from the wing, for instance, is seen to 
consist of a central tube or shaft, attached to which 
on either side is a blade-like expansion called the 
vane. If we provide a small magnifying glass and 
by its assistance look steadily at the feathery vane, 
we will find it to be composed of a great many 
separate branches, each of which consists of still 
smaller ones; and the edges of the finest are covered 
with little barbs, which hook themselves together so 
as to form a continuous blade. As the bird flies, the 
feather strikes the air with its broad surface as a 
boat-oar does the water, but in the return stroke 
only the sharp edge is presented. Beside such large 
and compact feathers, there are many smaller plumes 
to be seen; these have not the barbed edges, and 
consequently the fibres are loose and separate, 
seemingly designed as a protection against cold. 

In comparison with the size of its body, a bird's 



THE BIRDS. 39 

head is extremely small, and very light — an admir- 
able adaptation to easy flight. Instead of a large 
mouth rilled with teeth, birds have beaks, some short 
and stout as the robin's and sparrow's, others hooked 
and sharp-pointed, like those of the hawk and eagle, 
and still others like the duck's, flat and spreading. 
Birds swallow their food whole; it passes first into a 
small sack called the crop, thence into a second 
receptacle, becoming continually softened by the 
action of the digestive fluids, and then into the 
gizzard — a very thick walled stomach, usually con- 
taining sand, gravel, and other hard substances which 
the bird has swallowed. By the movements of the 
gizzard, and the grinding of the hard bodies therein 
contained,, the food soon becomes reduced to a finer 
condition, and is ultimately absorbed. 

The young of birds are produced from eggs, previ- 
ously laid by the hen, and each covered with a hard 
shell. Reptiles, such as the tortoise, and serpent, 
also produce eggs which in shape and size greatly 
resemble birds' eggs, but these have a tough leathery 
skin instead of a hard brittle shell. Inside the shell, 
each egg is seen to consist of a white portion and a 
yellow part or yelk (sometimes called the yolk). If 
we examine the uninjured yelk of a freshly laid egg, 
there will be noticed a small whitish speck floating 
on the surface; this is called the germ, and under the 
influence of warmth it undergoes a strange develop- 
ment, and eventually appears as a living bird. The 
warmth of the parent bird's body is naturally em- 
ployed in the hatching; but artificial heat may be 



40 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

used with success. The ostrich, a large bird inhab- 
iting the sandy deserts of Africa, frequently leaves 
its eggs uncovered during the warm parts of the day, 
knowing that the heat of the sun will be sufficient to 
continue the incubation. A peculiarly ingenious 
habit is practised by the Mound Birds of Australia. 
Instead of sitting upon the eggs, they place them in 
large heaps of decaying vegetable matter, which they 
have previously collected and prepared for the pur- 
pose; the heat generated by the decay proves to be 
all that is requisite in the process. 

The period of incubation varies with different 
species of birds. The eggs of the humming-bird 
hatch in twelve days; canaries, from fifteen to eighteen 
days; fowls, twenty-one; ducks, twenty-five and swans, 
about forty-five. When the young bird is developed, 
and ready to escape from the shell, it makes a hole 
in the latter by means of a hardened appendage on 
its beak, which Nature seems to have provided 
especially for this purpose; for soon after the bird 
leaves the shell, the hardened point, being of no 
further use, falls off, furnishing another and strong 
illustration of Nature's tendency to do away with all 
superfluities. 

The size of the eggs produced is in general pro- 
portionate to the size of the birds. The largest eggs 
are those of the ostrich and the emu, a single one 
weighing as much as do three dozen eggs of the barn- 
yard fowl. They are used as food, and the shells 
being very stout and strong make admirable water 
vessels. In contrast, the eggs of the fairy-like 



THE BIRDS. 41 

humming-bird may be named, in size about that 
of a pea and of a pure white color. Generally the 
larger birds lay but few eggs; the eagle for instance 
lays two, while the little wren occasionally deposits 
twelve in a nest.* To this also there are exceptions, 
which, however, cannot fail to do as much to 
strengthen our belief in the divine foresight which 
has planned all, as the rule itself. The ostrich, 
already referred to, frequently lays ten eggs, some of 
which are not produced until after incubation has 
progressed and perhaps not until the young birds 
from the eggs first laid are hatched. The extra eggs 
are destined to serve as food for the young ostriches, 
until they become sufficiently vigorous to digest the 
hard and uninviting fare of the desert, upon which 
their parents feed. The incubation process is one 
of surpassing wonder: man is powerless to explain, 
far less to imitate, the mystic changes in silent pro- 
gress within -the shell of a fowl's egg. 

The great attachment of birds for their mates, and 
the unusually strong parental instincts, implanted 
for a wise purpose within their feathered bosoms, 
find fullest expression during the breeding season. 



* The most prolific egg-producers among birds are the 
domesticated varieties which have been bred and cared for 
by man for long periods. Tame ducks sometimes produce 
over a hundred eggs within four or five months; while the 
barn-yard fowl lays frequently 120 eggs during the year. 
The rearing of such birds for their eggs is now a profitable 
and an important industry. In 1870 there were imported 
into Great Britain alone 753 millions of eggs, valued at 
$13,100,000. 



42 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

After the nest is built and the eggs are laid, the 
long and tedious labor of incubation is begun by the 
female; while the male usually remains perched in 
some neighboring bush or tree, ready to defend his 
household charge against any foe; and, in the mean- 
time, he enlivens the heart of his patient mate by 
giving voice to a joyous song, occasionally taking 
her place on the nest for a short time, while she 
enjoys her daily exercise and her meals. When the 
little ones appear, the duties of both parents are of a 
different, though very laborious nature, nearly all 
their time and attention being demanded to supply 
food to their eager offspring; and no amount of hard- 
ship and self-denial seems too great to be borne, if 
the babies can be protected and fed. 

In defense of their eggs or young, even small birds 
fight most desperately, not hesitating to attack larger 
birds, animals, reptiles or men, who attempt to 
desecrate their homes. Some of our smallest and 
sweetest of singing birds, ordinarily of so tender and 
timid a nature that we would scarcely think them 
capable of a daring deed, have been known to fear- 
lessly dart on large snakes or even cats that seek to 
rob their nests; and many a man has been driven out 
of his own barn loft by a pair of owls who had estab- 
lished their home iu that place. Yet the courage of 
birds seeking to protect their homes, is not of the 
blind, rash kind, so often seen among men who are 
terrorized and excited. No; they seldom lose their 
presence of mind; but often display at such times most 
cunning and ingenious devices to draw the enemy 



THE BIRDS. 43 

away. A dove or a partridge on being disturbed on 
its nest by the approach of man or dog, will often 
flutter along only a short distance ahead of the pur- 
suer, and sometimes under his very feet, acting as if 
lamed or injured, and thus tempting a chase — always 
leading the enemy farther away from the nest with 
its precious inmates. 

Among the many foes which the sitting birds have 
cause to fear, we may mention reptiles, carnivorous 
quadrupeds, and birds of prey, and perhaps crudest 
of all, children with uncurbed passions for destruc- 
tion. It is disgraceful and wicked to molest an in- 
nocent bird; and in addition, cowardly and cruel to 
injure its nest or steal its offspring. The grief man- 
ifested by the parent birds on being deprived of their 
young, is pitiful to witness; and their cries of distress 
are not unheard by the kind Creator "who made and 
loveth all." As we hope to receive kind treatment 
and mercy from our Father, let us be willing to show 
the same toward His humbler creatures, w T ho are far 
more innocent in His sight than the man or boy with 
barbarous and wanton instincts of slaughter. 

CHAPTER IX. 

BIRDS AT HOME. 

(||s£j?HE great solicitude of birds for their young is 
(H/3 beautifully shown in the care bestowed upon 

¥the nest. Nests are built solely for the pur- 
pose of rearing the progeny, and not to form a 
home for the old birds at all; for in the winter-time 



44 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

when shelter is most needed the nests are entirely 
discarded. 

Many of the larger birds, such as the eagle family, 
content themselves with a somewhat rude nest lodged 
on a projecting crag, or between the branches of a 
tall tree, and consisting of such coarse materials as 
sticks and twigs, lined, however, very comfortably 
with hair, wool or feathers. But many smaller 
species of our feathered friends display wonderful 
skill and unbounded care in the construction of their 
children's homes. 

Look at the pretty cradle-nest of the humming 
bird; it is a masterpiece of skill — in size not 
larger than a small blue plum, but shaped with all 
the care that an expert weaver could bestow. The 
materials of which it consists are soft mosses and 
delicate lichens, generally collected by the male, and 
artistically arranged by his mate; the crevices are 
closed by a kind of glue formed from the saliva of the 
bird; and the inside is lined and padded with the 
richest and softest of vegetable silk. Not less won- 
derful, though entirely different, are the nests of the 
wren, the hedge-sparrow, the finches, the blue jay and 
the magpie; all of them show the effects of a Master's 
teaching. 

In the autumn, after the leaves have fallen and the 
trees and bushes are bare, much may be learned by 
a close examination of the empty and forsaken nests 
of the past summer's songsters. See with what care 
these little creatures have selected the locality and 
position best calculated to ensure the safety of their 



BIRDS AT HOME. 45 

homes — perhaps a forked bough deeply hidden in the 
heart of a leafy bush, or a crevice in some dried 
tree trunk, or a sheltered ledge of rock. Peep within 
one of these cozy cots, and see the provisions made 
for the comfort of the birdlings; here they were 
hatched and reared, learning from the solicitous care 
of their parents, their own future duty. Look speci- 
ally at the nest of the tiny wren: from the outside 
it seems little more than a ball of straw, but within 
it is lined as soft as a lady's muff of costly fur and 
finest silk; there is an entrance on the side thus pro- 
viding a roofed top to keep out the rain. 

The Bottle-Tit is a small bird, found at the Cape 
of Good Hope, and remarkable for the ingenuity 
displayed in the forming of its nest. This is woven of 
cotton, somewhat in the shape of a bottle, and of such 
careful workmanship that a single loose fibre is rarely 
to be seen. While the hen bird is sitting within, the 
male keeps careful watch from his seat in a little 
pouch, built for the purpose, on the neck of the 
curiously shaped abode. When the old birds leave 
the nest, even for a short time, the opening is securely 
closed. But in elegance of construction, even this 
nest is surpassed by that of the Pendulum Titmouse, 
a bird no larger than a sparrow, and found chiefly in 
Africa and India. Its nest is in shape like a long- 
necked retort, such as is used by chemists, and is 
hung from a branch of a tree, with the opening 
downward. Nothing is employed in its construction 
but the finest moss and down, woven so compactly 
that it forms a kind of felt which is an admirable non- 



46 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



conductor of heat, thus insuring the eggs and young 
good protection from the extremes of temperature. 

The Tailor Bird is a well deserved title bestowed 
on a peculiar variety native in India. The nest is 
built in a large leaf, the edges of which have been 
sewn together to form a kind of sack. In this labor, 
the ingenious little seamstress employs a fine kind of 
flexible grass as thread, and her own sharp bill is an 
admirable needle. If a single leaf sufficiently large 
cannot be found, two smaller ones are sewn together. 
This forms but the casing or holder for the nest, 
which is then built within, of grass and fibre, and 
thoroughly lined. In this pendulous cradle, the 
young are reared, gaily rocked by every breath of 
air. What child can boast of so ingenious a bed? 



'-n. 













Fig. 9.— The Weaver Birds' Home. • 
Another feathered resident of the Cape of Good 
Hope claims our attention by reason of the peculi- 
arity of its nest, viz. the Sociable Weaver Bird, or 
as some people name it, the Republican Bird. A 
picture of its strange dwelling is shown in figure 9. 



BIRDS AT HOME. 47 

A great number of these birds live together as a 
colony: sometimes as many as six hundred building 
in a single tree. They first construct a huge frame 
work about the trunk of a tree, resembling some- 
what an expanded umbrella in form, and beneath 
this great dome, each has its own apartment. An 
idea of the size and weight of such a nest may be 
gained from the statement of Levaillant, that in 
moving one of them, he was compelled to employ a 
wagon and several men. 

A peculiar kind of swallow is found on the coasts 
of China, Java and Sumatra, which forms a nest 
unlike that of any other bird. The little builder col- 
lects a soft, slimy sea weed, abundant in the neigh- 
borhood, and cements the same by the aid of its own 
glutinous saliva into a kind of isinglass. These are 
the edible bird's nests, considered by epicures as a 
great delicacy for the table. Soup made from these 
nests is among the most expensive of such luxuries, 
yet it is in such high favor with the wealthy, that 
the collection and exportation of edible nests forms 
a profitable avocation in the parts where they are 
found.* 

The noisy magpie, so common about our copses 
and hills, is a phenomenal thief; and apparently 

* This peculiar kind of food is more widely consumed 
than is generally known. Figuier states that from the 
coast of Cochin China alone, over four millions of nests 
are exported annually: the proprietors of one cavern in 
Java, which is frequented by the Esculent Swallow, re- 
ceive twenty-five thousand dollars per year rent for the 
place. 



48 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

thinking that its own dishonest tricks may be imitated 
by others, it takes the precaution to surround its 
nest with a thorny hedge. 

Some varieties of East Indian birds exhibit a most 
remarkable domestic arrangement during the hatch- 
ing season. As soon as the eggs are laid, the male 
imprisons the female upon her nest by building a 
stout wall of mud about the same, leaving only a 
small opening for the supply of air and food. The 
latter commodity he supplies with assiduous care 
during the whole period, and as soon as the birdlings 
are hatched he joyously breaks down the barriers and 
liberates his patient spouse. 

Many birds habitually hang their nests, as the 
golden-crested wren, orioles and humming-birds, and 
such find at times that their cradles are liable to be 
overthrown through the increasing weight of the 
thriving brood. In these cases they promptly provide 
an equipoise by loading the opposite side of the nest 
with small stones or mud. Is not this a mark of a 
high intelligence, looking, indeed, very much like 
reason? They do not weight the nests until the 
necessity for such a precaution is plain. 

Not all birds exhibit the same degree of care and 
skill either in the nest building or any other duty of 
life. There are to be found good and bad, kind and 
cruel, skillful and careless, obedient and rebellious 
among birds as among men. Many birds are known 
to use the discarded nests of others rather than build 
themselves, and some have been known to forcibly 
dispossessthe rightfuloccupants and appropriate their 



BIRDS AT HOME. 49 

homes. Such is not an infrequent trick of the pug- 
nacious little house-sparrow, which easily drives the 
inoffensive swallow from its cozy nest of mud beneath 
the eaves. The Cuckoos of the Eastern Hemisphere 
and the Cow-Birds of the Western habitually deposit 
their eggs in the nests of other birds, and leave them 
there to be hatched by the owner of the nursery. 
The young cuckoo seems to know that its foster 
parents will never be able to keep its hungry mouth 
well fed, and care for their own legitimate offspring 
at the same time, so, being larger than the others, he 
manages to get them one by one on his back and 
soon pitches them out of the nest. As the cuckoo 
builds no nest, neither sits on her eggs nor nourishes 
her young she has been often referred to as the type 
of a careless mother and a truant wife. But she has 
a maternal instinct within her breast as have others, 
and a little study of cuckoo life will perhaps aid us in 
understanding such recreant tricks. Cuckoos do not 
pair like most other birds in the breeding season; 
and the hen bird does not lay all her eggs at one 
time. She produces eight or ten eggs during the 
course of a few weeks; in consequence of this, even if 
she did undertake to construct a nest, she would of 
necessity have to build it alone, without the assist- 
ance of a mate; but if the nest were completed and 
the first eggs hatched, she would have to provide 
food for her young while still trying to cover the eggs 
produced later. Apparently knowing that such a 
labor could not be performed with satisfaction and 
success, she declines to make the attempt. As soon 



50 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

as an egg is laid, she takes it in her beak and flies to 
the nest of some small inoffensive warbler such as the 
lark, red-throat, robin-redbreast, hedge-sparrow or 
nightingale, and leaves it there. She seems to watch 
for the absence of the proprietor of the nest in making 
the addition. One observer tells of a red-throat 
coming home unexpectedly and finding a cuckoo at 
her nest; the little house-keeper at once began an 
assault and soon compelled the stranger to retire with 
her burden. If not interrupted, however, the cuckoo 
will safely deposit her egg; but it is said she is never 
known to bring a second one to the same nest. She 
visits the nests, in which her eggs have been placed, 
several times before leaving the neighborhood, appar- 
ently to satisfy herself that her progeny have been 
left in tender care. She is therefore not entirely free 
from parental anxiety regarding her offspring; but I 
do not seek to fully justify the creature in her truant 
and unsteady life, especially if the following be true. 
Louis Figuier, the French naturalist, states that the 
cuckoo, after depositing her own egg in a stranger's 
nest, frequently takes one of the other eggs from the 
nest, breaks it and scatters the shell; so that when 
the lady of the house returns she finds only the usual 
number of eggs and apparently is slow to discover 
the deception. Such an act would seemingly indicate 
a degree of careful thought and reason; but the 
intelligence so shown is used to assist the bird in its 
knavery. And such a condition of things is not 
without its parallel among the unfeathered bipeds of 
the world; too frequently men use their knowledge 



BIRDS OF PREY. 51 

and skill whereby to bring imposition upon their 
trustful and non-suspecting fellows. 




CHAPTER X. 

BIRDS OF PREY. 

^jg^HE birds of prey, include some of the largest 
among the whole order of birds. Many of 
them are well known; though the links which 
bind them to the memory, are not associated 
with the grace and beauty of form and voice, so 
characteristic of the smaller and less pretentious birds. 
As their name implies, these birds feed habitually 
upon flesh; the bodies of other birds and small 
quadrupeds usually supplying their larders. They 
are, indeed, the scourge and terror of all the rest of 
the feathered tribes; and for the pursuit, capture, 
and killing of their prey, they seem to be specially 
adapted. The beak of a bird of prey is usually very 
strong and sharp, and of a hooked shape, with a 
characteristic naked membrane or skin, called the 
cere, at the base. The toes are very flexible, ter- 
minated by hooked talons, and operated by powerful 
muscles; even a hasty glance convinces an observer 
that such are terrible weapons, when vigorously used. 
Of this large class, we find in nearly all parts of the 
country, eagles, hawks and owls; and on the Pacific 
Coast, and in South America, several species of 
vultures in addition. 

Among the last named division is the Condor of 



52 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the Andes, a vulture of the largest kind. It often 
shows a spread of wings of from eight to twelve feet, 
and the length of the bird from beak to tail, averages 
four feet. Its plumage is of a blue-black tint, con- 
trasting strongly with which is a collar on the back 
and sides of the neck, of dazzling whiteness. The 
upper part of the neck and the crest, as with all 
vultures, is devoid of feathers; being covered with 
a tough, semi-cartilaginous coat. Like others of 
the vulture kind, the condor seldom kills its own 
prey, unless it be some animal rendered weak and 
helpless, from age or disease; usually the creature 
prefers to feed upon the dead and decaying bodies of 
animals, which, through the agency of wonderfully 
keen senses of sight and smell, it is enabled to 
recognize from a great distance.* It is extremely 
gluttonous in its habits, so much so, that after a full 
meal, it is so gorged as to be unable to fly. Taking 
advantage of this propensity, the inhabitants of the 
regions frequented by condors, often destroy great 
numbers of the birds, by setting out for them carrion 
flesh in abundance; after their meal is over, the 
capture of the greedy creatures is an easy matter. 

* The extravagant stories, related of the condors daring, 
seem, generally, to lack foundation. Those who have 
studied the habits of the bird most closely say that it will 
never attack large animals, except they be helpless, or 
unless it is compelled to tight in self-defence. Even men 
have been known to be attacked by these rapacious 
monsters, when famished and overcome from hunger, or 
fatigue; but, an observer, who has had good opportunity 
of judging, writes, that a boy of ten years, armed with a 
stick, can easily put a condor to flight. 



BIRDS OF PREY. 



53 




Fig. 10. 



-White-headed 
Eagle. 



Among Eagles we find in the United States, the 
bald eagle, more properly called the white-headed 
eagle and the rarer golden eagle. 

The white-headed eagle is 
i widely distributed'over North 
America. This bird is the 
chosen symbol of our na- 
tion.* It feeds principally on 
hares, chickens, young lambs 
and even larger animals such 
as sheep, calves and pigs, and 
at times it betrays a special 
fondness for fish, though rare- 
ly taking the trouble to 
catch them for itself. The 
osprey is a smaller species of eagle, with a great 
propensity for fishing, and it is usually successful in 
its sport. Of this fact the white-headed eagle seems 
well aware, and is ever on the alert to rob the 
osprey of its booty. 

In the eagle the sense of vision is very keenly 
developed. When soaring in conscious majesty far 
above the highest mountain crags, so high in, fact, as 
to be almost imperceptible to the human eye from 
below, he sees a wild fowl or a hare on the plain, and, 

* Dr. Steele has made the somewhat humorous remark: 
"Equally indifferent to the extremes of heat and cold, as 
well as to a maritime or an inland life; now honestly pur- 
suing an independent vocation, and anon acting the part 
of a freebooter, and robbing the fish-hawk of its well- 
earned food, it is not an altogether unsuitable emblem of 
the nation." 



54 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

folding his wings, drops like a weight to within a 
short distance of the earth, then preparing his talons 
he seizes his prey and bears it away to a place of 
security. The swiftness of the eagle's flight is pro- 
verbially known; one naturalist claims that the bird 
is able to sustain a speed of forty miles an hour. 
Certain it is that its speed is wonderful, and its 
muscular power and strength still more so. Eagles 
carry off even sheep and young deer to their aeries; 
and the sight of an eagle's nest, from the bones and 
other remains of their victims, might well suggest a 
charnel house.* The eaglets have an almost insatiable 
appetite; nevertheless they are able to exist many 
days without food. The great naturalist, BufFon, 
states that a young eagle was once caught in a trap 
and kept five weeks without food, but showed no 
signs of feebleness till the last few days. 

Illustrative of the great physical power of eagles 
in their flight, instances of children being carried off 
by these birds have often been cited, and accounts 
of such cases have been recorded by some of the most 
trustworthy observers. The following are vouched 

for by the best authority: 

"In the canton of Vaud two little girls, one three years 

* The following is recorded by Figuier: "A peasant in 
Ireland kept himself and the whole of his family for an 
entire season by robbing the eaglets in a neighboring aerie 
of the stores of food which were brought to them by the 
parent birds. In order to prolong this singular means of 
livelihood, report says, he endeavored to delay the moment 
when the loved ones would be driven forth, adopting the 
artifice of cutting their wings to render them incapable of 
flight." 



BIRDS OF PREY. 55 

old and the other five, were playing together in a meadow. 
An eagle swooped down upon the eldest and carried her 
f£ * * * Two months having elapsed, a shepherd dis- 
covered the remains of the little victim horribly mutilated 
and lying upon a rock half a league from the meadow in 
which she was taken." 

"In the Isle of Skye, Scotland, a woman left her child 
in a field. An eagle carried off the little one in its talons, 
and passing over a broad lake, laid it upon a rock. For- 
tunately the robber was perceived by some shepherds, who 
came up in time to succor the infant." 

Another authentic case showing still greater mus- 
cular strength is the following: 

"In the canton of Geneva a boy ten years old, who was 
robbing an eagle's nest, was seized by one of the birds and 
borne to a point six hundred yards from the spot. He was 
rescued by his companion, however, without having suffered 
further injury than some severe wounds inflicted by the 
bird's talons." 

Hawks, are smaller members of the falcon family, 
and exist in several varieties. The American Spar- 
row Hawk is among the smallest of all — scarce larger 
than a robin. Hawks are powerful, for their size; 
though they do not approach the strength of the 
eagle family. Their flight, when in pursuit of prey, 
is very swift. 

Closely allied to them, is the whole family of 
Falcons proper, perhaps the most rapacious, and 
certainly the most powerful of all birds of prey, in 
proportion to their size. In the Middle Ages, these 
birds, when tamed, were largely used in the art of 
jalconry or hawking, which consisted in loosing 
trained falcons or hawks, to pursue and capture other 
birds. It was customary to keep the falcon hooded 



56 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

or covered, while hunting, until the game was seen; 
then, being freed, the bird would immediately start 
in swift pursuit, very rarely failing to secure the 
prize. Falcons could be taught to capture herons, 
kites, crows, quails and pheasants; besides hares, and 
even gazelles. In Egypt, India, China and Japan, 
the sport is still practised. 

All birds of prey seem possessed of wonderful 
tenacity of life; and if uninjured live to a great age; 
but such is specially true of the falcons. It is a 
matter of record that a falcon was captured at the 
Cape of Good Hope in 1797, apparently in full vigor, 
bearing upon its neck a golden collar, on which was 
an inscription dated 1 G 10 and stating that the bird 
belonged to King James I of England. It must 
therefore have been over one hundred and eighty- 
seven years old. 

Owls are nocturnal or night-roving in their habits, 
and in consequence have been always regarded with 
a sort of dread. In America there are upwards of 
forty separate kinds, varying from the size of a 
dove to that of a turkey. The plumage of owls is 
exceedingly soft and full; and their flight is so 
noiseless that they seem really to be borne upon the 
air itself without effort of their own. The eyes of 
the whole owl tribe are exceedingly large, and are 
directed forward, instead of sideways as is the case 
with most other birds, so that the owl must needs 
turn its head even to glance on one side; and this it 
does with such comical, quizzical movements, as to 
appear really ludicrous. The eyes are surrounded by 



BIRDS OF PREY. 57 

a large facial disc of slender and stiff feathers. But 
a more important characteristic of the eye is the 
excessive dilation of which the pupil is capable. 
This enables the bird to see more clearly in dim 
light; though of course the idea that the owl, or in 
fact any othe*r animal, can physically see in absolute 
darkness is absurd. The brilliancy of day, however, 
seems to be almost insupportable to owls, and con- 
sequently they remain safely and snugly hidden in 
their dark abodes till twilight comes. If an owl be 
disturbed during the day and driven into the light, 
it is almost helpless. Many small birds, such as the 
saucy black-bird, and the mischievous sparrow delight 
to catch their common enemy in such a plight; they 
join forces and usually pick and annoy him without 
mercy, all the time chirping and chattering as if 
every one of them were giving the broad-faced gentle- 
man a special lecture, with practical demonstrations 
on the evils of his ways. 

Owls wage great destruction among mice, rats and 
other farm vermin, and in consideration of this alone 
they are entitled to protection and respect. Mr. 
Waterton, a very reliable observer, expresses as his 
opinion, that a pair of Barn Owls while rearing their 
young, bring to the nest four or five mice every hour 
during the night. He domesticated a colony of owls, 
and was rewarded for his pains by the disappearance 
of rats and mice about his premises. 

These birds are far more effectual than cats as 
vermin destroyers on a farm. As is the case with all 
birds which subsist on living or freshly-killed prey, 



58 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the owl devours its food entire, swallowing alike the 
flesh, bones and hair — usually rejecting the feathers, 
however, if birds have been captured. The digestive 
organs are so constructed as to readily separate the 
digestible from the non-digestible portions, which 
latter are formed into a ball within the stomach and 
then ejected by vomiting. 

An observer has thus described the barn owl's style 
of dining: "The mouse is first bitten smartly across 
the back so as to destroy all life, and when it hangs 
motionless from the bird's beak it is tossed into the 
air very adroitly so as to fall with its head down- 
ward. The owl then catches the head in his mouth 
and holds it for a few seconds; then a sharp toss 
sends it down his throat, leaving the tail hanging out 
usually at the left side of the bird's beak. The bird 
rolls this about for a bit, as a boy would a stick of 
candy, and then another jerk puts all out of sight." 



CHAPTER XL 

CLIMBING BIRDS. 



§&8$LL climbing birds have their toes equally 
Skw divided, two in front, and two behind; and so 
^o^? arranged as to firmly grasp the branches and 
tgf trunks of trees. Among our common birds of 
this sort are woodpeckers and cuckoos ; but in 
warmer parts, many other varieties are found com- 
prising the parrots and all their kindred. 



CLIMBING BIRDS. 59 

The Woodpecker is finely adapted to the habits of 
its allotted life, which are in many respects peculiar. 
The busy little bird may readily be observed about 
our woods and orchards, plying its avocation with 
enthusiastic ardor. Its principal food consists of 
insects and their larvae, in search of which it goes 
from tree to tree, examining every crevice in wood 
or bark, and occasionally sounding the tree by re- 
peated blows from its stout bill to ascertain if the 
trunk be in any part unsound; in which case, it 
would most probably secrete insects. The bird easily 
cuts holes in tree and post to reach its prey; its 
tongue is very long and barbed at the tip, and by 
its aid the bird readily secures any insect within 
reach. This interesting little creature also bores in 
wood to form secure places for its nest. In many 
places, the woodpecker has been cruelly treated, 
under the mistaken notion that it is injurious to 
trees. On the contrary it is of very great benefit in 
the orchard and the forest, by ridding the trees of 
destructive insects in great numbers. The wood- 
pecker never bores a sound limb; insects do not hide 
in any but dead wood, and stories about the bird's 
injurious carpentry are unconfirmed. As already 
stated, the cuckoo belongs also to the class of climb- 
ing birds ; many of the peculiar habits of the 
European cuckoo have been already dwelt upon at 
some length. 

Parrots are to be found native only in the warmer 
parts of the earth, where they live amid the sur- 
roundings of a perpetual summer; but they are com- 



60 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

mon in a state of captivity nearly all over the world. 
Only one species, the Carolina Parrot of the South- 
ern states, not larger than a dove, is to be met with 
in our country. 

All parrots are characterized by a stout, thick bill, 
the upper mandible of which far overlaps the lower 
so as to form a hooked beak, which proves of as 
much use in climbing and grasping small objects as 
the claws. The colors of some species are most 
gaudy and gay; all the tints of the heavenly bow 
seem to have been appropriated to adorn their 
dress. They are proud, too, of their flashy 
apparel, and take great pains to preserve their finery 
in an unsullied state. Bathing is a delight, aud in 
the warm weather, they splash about in the water, 
with keen enjoyment. Then they smooth and stroke 
their plumage, till every fibre is laid aright. 

Parrots are especially remarkable, on account of 
their varied powers of voice. They readily learn to 
pronounce distinctly, any word or sentence they may 
hear; and frequently, they imitate familiar voices, so 
perfectly, as to deceive even intimate acquaintances. 
They may be taught to speak in any ordinary voice, 
to shout, to sing, and to laugh, with all the per- 
fection of a trained actor In consequence of such 
extraordiuarypDwers, parrots have been widely adopted 
as pets, and many an I strange are the stories told of 
their loquacity. It is not to be supposed, however, 
that these birds partake of the spirit of true 
lauguage, so as to form new and independent sen- 
tences themselves, from the words they have heard. 



CLIMBING BIRDS. 61 

They learn to imitate known sounds and to repeat 
what they hear; frequently, also, gaining an idea of 
the meaning, from the actions that accompany the 
speech; but this is only a highly developed act of 
imitation. Articulate speech, that is, language con- 
sisting of separate sentences and definite words, 
seems to be a gift to the human family alone. All 
birds and beasts, it is true, possess some system of 
communication between themselves, which, indeed, 
we may call their language; but this consists usually 
of disconnected sounds, and inarticulate cries, often 
associated with expressive gestures, serving, however, 
the purposes of their sphere of thought and action, 
as fully and as well as does the heaven-born speech 
of man fit him for his mode of being. The language 
of man differs from that of the animal creation, over 
which he rules, in kind, as well as in mere degree of 
perfection; and his speech is as far above theirs, as 
are his spirit and his mind superior to them. Parrots, 
however, and some few other birds, learn to repro- 
duce the words .of man, oftentimes with strange 
effect. 

The author knew a fine gray parrot once, which 
had been taught to stretch out her foot when told so 
to do, and each time she did this her master rewarded 
her with a piece of sugar. She heard him say, "Polly, 
hold out your claw," so often that at length she 
learned to repeat the words in a very perfect imita- 
tion of his voice and manner. Frequently she would 
call out herself, "Polly, hold out your claw;" and at 
such times she would invariably stretch out her foot, 



62 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

as if someone else had told her to, and then she would 
appear extremely disappointed because the sugar was 
not forthcoming. The bird seemed not to recognize 
the difference between her own voice and that of a 
person by her. Her performance then was purely an 
act of imitation. 

I remember making the acquaintance of another 
parrot under somewhat peculiar circumstances. 
Calling once at a gentleman's house on business, I 
was left alone for a time in the sitting-room — at 
least I thought I was alone; but soon I was very 
much surprised to hear in a pleasing time the words, 
"Please scratch my head." Looking around with 
no common interest to discover the person asking 
such an unusual accommodation at the hands of a 
stranger, I saw, in a corner of the room, a large cage 
containing a magnificent green parrot. As I ap- 
proached the cage, the pretty prisoner repeated the 
request and in exactly the same tones of voice, at 
the same time bending her poll forward so that I 
could reach it easily through the bars. I complied, 
of course, rubbing her head for some time; in which 
process she seemed to take considerable delight, and 
at the conclusion, in a very distinct and pleasant 
manner she said, "Thank you, sir." I was inquisitive 
enough to ask the owner of the bird how she had 
acquired such an education. He told me, that finding 
the parrot enjoyed having her head rubbed, he made 
it a rule to do this for her every day, invariably 
repeating before beginning the process, "Please 
scratch my head," and at the" conclusion always 



CLIMBING BIRDS. 63 

saying "Thank you, sir," till the bird picked up the 
words and used them for herself.* 

The many truly interesting species of macaws, 
parrakeets, love-birds and cockatoos, which we are 
always sure to find in any traveling menagerie, are 
all varieties of the parrot tribe. 

Before forsaking our present subject of climbing 
birds, we must mention the truly wonderful Toucan 
of the South American forests. It has an enormous 
bill, almost as large as a boy's wrist, while the body 
of the bird is but little bigger than that of a tame 
pigeon. Though apparently clumsy, this wonderful 
beak is in reality very light, being of a spongy or 
honey-combed structure, and the bird seems to take 
great care of it — carefully hiding it in the feathers 
of its wing and breast when at roost, at the same 
time also curving its long tail over the back, and 
thus disposing of the two lengthened appendages, so 
that its whole body appears compact and inconspicu- 

* Goldsmith tells a story about a parrot owned by King 
Henry VIII of England. This bird was usually confined 
in a room overlooking the river Thames, in which abode it 
had learned many phrases from the boatmen and others 
passing on the river. One day it fell from the window 
into the river, when it cried with a powerful voice; "A 
boat! a boat! twenty pounds to save me." A man on the 
bank, hearing the cry, and thinking some one was drown- 
ing, sprang into the water without delay, and was con- 
siderably surprised to find it was only a bird. Recognizing 
the king's pet, he carried it to the royal palace and claimed 
the reward promised by the bird when in distress. We 
are assured by the narrator that when the circumstance 
was related to the king, he laughed heartily and paid the 
money with a good grace. 



64 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

ous. The tongue of this bird is long, straight and 
barbed on each side like a stiff feather. From this 
peculiarity the people of Brazil, where the bird is 
often found, gave it the name it bears. In their 
language toucan means "feather." 

The toucan feeds mostly on insects and soft fruits, 
in eating which it tosses its head back so that the 
food falls of itself into the throat, appearing at first 
sight as if the bird really threw the morsel into the 
air and caught it again. 



% 




CHAPTER XII. 

SCRATCHING BIRDS. 

,*ANY birds seem to be adapted mostly for a 
(yj® life on the ground. Such are the doves, 
pigeons, farm -yard fowls, turkeys, prairie- 
chicken, etc. ; all of them feeding mostly on 
seeds and grains. From their habits when searching 
for food they are called scratching birds. These are 
to man among the most useful of birds, furnishing 
him with some of his daintiest foods. 

But few of this class are adapted for long continued 
flight; but to this a notable exception is found in the 
Wild Pigeons, which are really among the strongest 
and swiftest of flyers. Audubon, the great Ornith- 
ologist (one who studies birds) states that he has 
killed pigeons in the vicinity of New York City, 
having their crops still full of rice which must have 



SCRATCHING BIRDS. 65 

been gathered on the fields of Georgia and South 
Carolina — places from six hundred to seven hundred 
miles away. As it has been proved that the digestive 
organs of a pigeon will decompose a grain of rice in 
less than twelve hours, these birds must have 
traveled that distance with the speed of a fast 
express train. A mile a minute is said to be common 
flight for such birds. Wild pigeons live together in 
large numbers, and frequently migrate in a body 
when the supply of food runs short. A flock of such 
travelers on the wing is an imposing sight. The 
light of the sun at such times is obscured, as if a 
solar eclipse were in progress, and the sound of their 
wings can be compared only to the rush of a tornado. 
When they alight, they frequently pile upon each 
other to a considrable height, and the whole region 
is speedily cleared of everything edible to them; 
while their weight frequently breaks down the trees 
upon which they seek to rest. The same authority 
already referred to, Audubon, estimated that a single 
flock of these birds which he viewed in flight, com- 
prised about eleven hundred and fifteen millions; 
and that the food required for such a host would be 
nearly nine millions of bushels per day. 

Pigeons have been domesticated by man for many 
years; and at present a very great number of varie- 
ties are known. The Carrier Pigeon has proved 
itself of great service in bearing messages from place 
to place; and especially was this benefit felt before 
the invention of the electric telegraph. Knowing 
that these birds would always go straight to their 



66 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

homes when liberated at a distance, travelers used to 
take several with them on their journeys; and after 
having fastened a small note to a carrier's wing or 
foot, would set the bird free. It would be seen im- 
mediately to rise in the air, and, having made several 
circular sweeps as if to ascertain the direction of its 
home, it would dart off on a straight line for its des- 
tination almost with an arrow's flight. Carrier 
pigeons have been known to make an exceptional 
speed of over one hundred miles in an hour, such, 
however, could not be continued for any considerable 
length of time. 

The Domestic Fowl, another familiar example 
among the scratchers, and fully deserving of the class 
title, becomes readily attached to its home. These 
birds are poorly fitted for flight, and seldom attempt 
to rise in the air, except as a recourse of safety in 
time of danger, or to reach some elevated place to 
crow or to roost. At such times they seem so 
awkward in their attempts, and accompany the effort 
with such a noisy cackling and fuss, that one must 
think them engaged in an unusual undertaking. The 
male fowl, called the cock or rooster, is a magnifi- 
cent bird, carryiug himself with a dignity scarcely to 
be surpassed; but he is an aristocratic ruler, if not 
indeed a tyrant at times, in his dominion, and so 
jealous is he of his authority and rights, that the in- 
troduction of another rooster within his kingdom is 
a signal for battle: this will be continued between 
the rivals until one is vanquished. After the victory 
is decided, the defeated hero scarcely ever ventures 



RUNNING BIRDS. 67 

to meet the victor in combat again, usually fleeing 
even upon his approach. The fighting propensities 
of these birds used to be taken cruel advantage 
of to furnish barbarous sport for depraved people. 
The trained birds, pitted against each other, would 
usually fight to the death, in a determined manner, 
with both beak and spur. The spur can be seen on 
the back of the rooster's leg, just above the toes; it 
is a stout and sharp projection of a horny nature, 
and the owner knows how to use it to good advan- 
tage. 

The flesh and the eggs of tame fowl are highly 
prized as food, and man bestows great care and makes 
ample profit in their breeding. As w 7 ith all other 
domestic animals, chickens must be kept among clean 
surroundings if they are to be healthy in body and 
wholesome for food. Too often, however, their coops 
are allowed to become filthy, and in consequence the 
birds sicken and die. 

RUNNING BIRDS. 

There are some birds that live naturally upon the 
ground, being entirely devoid of the power of flight. 
Such is the case with the ostrich and its relatives, 
in all of which the wings are so small that they are 
entirely useless as organs of flight, whereas the legs 
are extremely stout. These have been called by 
naturalists, Running Birds. 

The true Ostrich is found native in Africa, and 
occasionally on the plains of Arabia. It is the 
tallest of all birds, frequently attaining a height of 
six feet, and sometimes even eight feet; and weighing 



68 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

upwards of a hundred pounds. It is the swiftest of 
all animals. A hunter mounted on the fleetest horse 
could not overtake the bird in a line of direct pur- 
suit; but the ostrich always runs in a curve, and the 
pursuer follows along a straight line in the same 
main direction so as to intercept the creature along 
its course. Dr. Livingstone says: "The legs of an 
ostrich running at full speed can no more be seen 
than the spokes in the wheel of a vehicle drawn at a 
gallop." 

Various artifices are resorted to in hunting the 
ostrich. Beside the method of chase and capture 
already described, the hunter sometimes hides himself 
in a hole in the sand, near the bird's nest. He takes 
his position while the owners of the nest are away in 
search of food, and usually succeeds in killing both 
the male and female birds when they return. Among 
the negroes, some hunters dress themselves in ostrich 
skins and in this disguise are able to approach the 
birds within bow shot. The ostrich is hunted mainly 
for its plumage. If taken young it may be tamed 
and even trained to carry burden. The negroes in 
Africa ride this bird as we do the horse. 

The ostrich has a voracious appetite, though 
capable of enduring hunger and thirst for long 
periods. It swallows at times, gravel, and even 
large pebbles, and other hard substances probably to 
aid in grinding its food, as fowls swallow sand. Its 
senses of taste and smell seem extremely imperfect, 
and this renders the creature less particular than it 
would otherwise be, as to the things it swallows. 



PERCHING BIRDS. 69 

The Rhea is a running bird of South America, 
and from its general form, is frequently called the 
"American ostrich." It is usually not more than half 
the size of its African brother. 

Besides the peculiarities of structure before 
noted, as fitting these birds for life on the ground, 
instead of in the air, the plumage of the Runners 
must be mentioned. The blades of the feathers are 
not joined compactly, by means of barbs, as in the 
case of flying birds. The wings are not used in 
beating the air, and there is no need of a continuous 
feather- vane ; in such feathers, therefore, barbs would 
be useless, and consequently they are not provided. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

PERCHING BIRDS. 

jjSKSJIRDS that habitually build and dwell in trees, 
qgjjs^ and that do not belong to the other orders 
n £$j? already named are called Perching Birds. The 
~6 L class is so large, presenting such great varia- 
tions and wide extremes that it is difficult, if not 
indeed impossible, to give any distinctive features of 
the whole tribe. We find included here most of the 
common birds of our orchards and fields, the happy 
songsters whose pleasing. music imparts such a charm 
to both hill and valley, as well as others whose voices 
are by no means entrancing to the ordinary ear. 

In this respect let it be noted that the gifts of 
Nature, even among birds, are distributed upon a plan 



70 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

of equity if not indeed of exact equality. Favorites 
are difficult to find. The Father's preserving care 
and kind concern is exercised over all alike. The 
birds most famed for song are generally dressed in 
the plainest garb. Look at the lark, the mocking- 
bird, the nightingale and the thrush — they all are 
clothed in simple unostentatious colors, though they 
charm the hours of sunrise, and even rob midnight 
of its dreariness by their songs; then glance at the 
humming-bird bedecked in its robes of crimson and 
of gold, but with no power of voice above a chirp; 
and at the elegant bird of paradise — so proud of its 
gaudy attire that it will not touch earth with its 
feet unless of necessity — then listen to its compar- 
atively inharmonious notes; think too of the gorgeous 
peacock with the eyes of Argus upon its train, but 
no nearer approach to a song than a discordant 
scream. Thus it is among birds as among men, the 
endowments of Nature are not all bestowed on one. 
The eagle excels in majestic strength, the nightin- 
gale in soul-inspiring notes; the pigeon and the 
swallow tax our belief in their feats of endurance 
and speed; the paradise bird has gained its name 
out of our homage to its almost heavenly lustre. So 
it is that each surpasses all in the special gift to 
which he is the lawful heir, everyone superior and at 
once inferior to all others, and — 

"Thus all enjoy the power which suits them best." 
Here also is a lesson for us. 

Among the Perchers, belongs the Humming Bird, 
the tiniest of all the feathered tribes — the flying 



PERCHING BIRDS. 71 

gem, as it is called. There are many species of these 
remarkable little creatures, though all native to the 
American Continent. The gayest in color are to be 
found in the warmer countries. Their long beak 
and flexible tongue, are admirably fitted for draining 
the honey cups of flowers — and such dainty food 
forms their chief support; though, indeed, they relish 
a meal of insects, occasionally. But it is the sad 
fate of these fairy-like creatures, to suffer for their 
beauty. The humming birds are eagerly caught to 
adorn the dress of those who aspire to a beauty not 
their own. The sacrifice of such innocent lives, for 
the cruel requirements of fashion, is both unnatural 
and wicked. Who sees aught of true beauty in the 
stuffed body of a bird, sewn on a head-gear? Are 
not the observer's feelings of sympathy and pity 
aroused to the exclusion of admiration; except, 
indeed, for the dead glories of the tiny creature? 
True beauty and proper taste are opposed to cruelty 
in any form; and will never countenance such bar- 
barous practices, as are here referred to, by any act 
of encouragement. 

The Mocking Bird, though common only in the 
Southern States, is a bird whose praises every Amer- 
ican is proud to spread. It is in reality a member of 
the great family of thrushes. In size, it is about 
that of the meadow lark, of a dull ashy color, with a 
long tail; but in no manner remarkable either for 
brilliancy of plumage or beauty of form. It is a 
matter of surprise that such powers of song are 
concentrated within its little throat. But its music 



72 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

is beyond description; it will never be forgotten by 
one who has once listened to those notes with all 
their wealth of inexpressible melody. It has a won- 
derful faculty too of imitating the voices of other birds 
or even quadrupeds; and this feat it accomplishes 
with such perfection as to deceive the animals them- 
selves, who move about with evident coucern thinking, 
they heard the call of their mates. The Indians call 
the mocking-bird the "bird of four hundred tongues." 
Many of its admirers declare its voice to be superior 
even to that of the far-famed nightingale. 

The class of birds known as the Perchers include 
also the numerous varieties of night-hawks, king- 
fishers, fly-catchers, warblers, thrushes, sparrows, 
larks, black-birds, crows, jays and many others. 

WATER BIRDS. 

In our mention of the chief classes of birds, we 
must not fail to speak of the Water Birds, both 
Waders and Swimmers. 

The former are provided with very long legs; so 
long in fact, that some naturalists call them stilt- 
walkers. Through this peculiarity of their shape, 
they are able to w r ade into the water in search of 
food, consisting of worms, fish, or in fact any small 
aquatic animals. Herons, cranes, bitterns, snipes 
and plovers are common around our lakes and big 
streams. The largest ones are very dignified and 
imposing in their bearing. The snipes and plovers 
(the latter sometimes called "pee-wits" from the 
peculiar cry which they utter when disturbed) are 
the only ones commonly used for food. 



WATER BIRDS. 73 

The swimmers, including our common ducks, geese, 
swans, pelicans, divers and gulls are fitted for life in 
the water. They all have webbed feet, and swim 
and dive with skill. Their plumage is heavy and 
thick, and is kept well oiled from certain glands of 
the skin, so that their feathers are not saturated and 
their bodies moistened by the water. Every thing 
is arranged, it seems, to cause the water to slide 
off the polished surface of the outer feathers, while 
the thick undergrowth of down furnishes an admir- 
able protection even from the severe cold of winter. 
None of these birds build very complicated nests; 
being usually content with a simple hollow among 
the rushes, always lined and carpeted however with 
the softest down, often obtained from their own 
breasts. The celebrated eider-down, of which the 
most expensive pillows and beds are made, is procured 
from the nest of a northern species of duck called 
the eider-duck. 

Many swimming birds are able to remain under 
water for a surprising length of time; while others, 
as the tern and gull, do not dive at all. The family of 
the last named, the Gulls, are of peculiar and 
affecting interest to the inhabitants of this Terri- 
tory; from the way in which they were brought by 
Divine power, in vast hosts in answer to the prayers 
of the people, to devour the ravenous locusts, which 
were producing such terrible destruction among the 
crops. Gulls have shown themselves to be veritable 
scavengers; and the good they accomplish by this 
propensity is extremely great. 



74 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

REPTILES. 



s 




i^HE word Reptile is derived from a Latin term 
%2/Sl meaning "to creep," or "to crawl," and is 
applied to a large class of cold-blooded animals 
characterized by such actions. Some of them, 
it is true, have limbs, but these are so short that part 
of the body is drawn on the earth. Turtles, lizards 
and serpents constitute our commonest classes of 
reptiles, and to these should be added the crocodiles 
and alligators, which though practically unknown in 
a wild state among us are unpleasantly common in 
the warm regions of both hemispheres. 

Turtles or Tortoises are reptiles of a flat sprawling- 
form, but particularly noted for their strange 
covering. This consists of a shell of bony and horny 
matter, made up of two parts, an arched roof- like 
upper part called the carapace; and a flat plate 
below called the plastron. The carapace, though 
composed largely of bone, is covered on the outside 
by a great many plates or scales of horn, fitted one 
to the other as accurately as are the ornamental 
tiles in a figured floor; and frequently of very varied 
colors. It is from this that the highly prized tortoise- 
shell ornaments are made. In most of the species, 
the two parts of the shell are immovably fixed to 
each other; the animal being able however to with- 
draw the head and limbs completely within as a plan 
of defense in case of threatened injury. But the 



REPTILES. 75 

Box Tortoise has a movable plastron or lower plate 
fixed to its hard covering, by which it so effectually 
closes its shell, that a knife-blade can scarcely be 
forced into the joints. 




Fig. 11. — Box Tortoise, with closed shell. 

Figure 1 1 is a very good picture of the box 
tortoise, with its shell closed, as has been described, 
and lying upon its back. The tightly-fitting plas- 
tron is well shown, and the curiously-marked sections 
of which it consists, are very distinct. Dead and 
empty shells of these reptiles, are often used as 
boxes and trays. The senses of these creatures, 
seem, as a rule, to be extremely dull; and many 
injuries that usually prove fatal to the water-blooded 
animals, are borne by them with but few signs of 
discomfiture. They are said to live, under favorable 
circumstances, more than two hundred years. Many 
varieties of tortoises are known, of which, the land 
tortoises, fresh -water tortoises (the last named more 
precisely called turtles), are the chief. 

From a hasty glance, it would seem impossible for 
an animal so heavily laden as the tortoise, with its 
cumbrous shell, to move at all readily, on land 



76 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

or in water; but, contrary to such superficial appear- 
ance, those tortoises that frequent the water, are 
expert swimmers and divers; the whole internal 
structure being an admirable adaptation to such 
actions. The lungs are connected with numerous 
air-cells, looking much like small bladders, and 
situated in many parts of the body; so that when 
the creature inhales, all these air-bags become in- 
flated, and the whole body is made specifically light. 

Land tortoises, though seldom larger than a 
dinner-plate, and usually very much smaller in 
temperate countries, grow to great size in warm 
parts; some specimens weighing over two hundred 
pounds each. They live almost exclusively on vege- 
table food. The flesh of some kinds of land tortoises 
is eaten and considered a luxury; the animals 
being fattened for the purpose as we would feed a 
fowl or a tame duck for the table. Fresh-water tor- 
toises are to be found in the marshes and rivers of 
heated regions. Their feet differ from those of 
land tortoises in being webbed, thus enabling the 
animals to swim easily. They are in general car- 
nivorous in habit, feeding largely on fish, frogs and 
toads, small birds and insects. 

The Snapping Turtle of many American rivers is 
represented in Figure 12 and deserves special men- 
tion. It is larger than other fresh-water species, 
measuring over three feet, and in exceptional cases 
four feet from the tip of the nose to the end of the 
tail. The head of this turtle is comparatively large 
and is terminated by a pair of strong hooked jaws, 



REPTILES. 77 

which it can fasten with wonderful strength upon an 
enemy in case of molestation. 




Fig. 12.— The River Tortoise, or "Snapping Turtle." 
Sea Turtles are in general very large. Their feet 
are shaped like fins or flippers, which are admirable 
organs of locomotion in the water, but give to the 
animal a very awkward appearance when it tries to 
make progress on land. These appendages, however, 
are of great service in scooping holes in the sand on 
the shore, in which to deposit its eggs. When laid, 
these eggs are carefully covered with sand and then 
abandoned, the heat of the sun being sufficient to 
effect the incubation. 

Although turtles are strong for their size, some of 
the largest being indeed possessed of a muscular 
vigor little less than marvelous, yet they are entirely 
helpless when turned on their backs. Hunters take 
advantage of this in capturing large sea turtles, 
by rushing suddenly upon the creatures when on the 
shore, and turning them over before they are able to 
regain the water. After having disabled as many as 
possible in this novel way, the captors return and 
kill their game at leisure. 



78 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

CHAPTER XV. 

SNAKES. 

jjjgajNAKES are characterized by very long bodies, 
SSI covered with scales, but without external 
limbs of any sort. Even a hasty examination, 
however, shows their scales to be materially 
different from those of fishes, being formed really as 
wrinkles or folds in the skin, and covered with a thin 
delicate membrane, which is sloughed or shed at in- 
tervals, once a year, or oftener. Though devoid of 
limbs, snakes are able to move over the ground with 
great rapidity by a sliding or telescoping action of 
the scaly rings around their bodies. Their teeth are 
sharp and well fitted for holding their prey; for such 
purpose, indeed, the teeth are intended to serve, rather 
than as organs of mastication, as serpents swallow 
their food whole. The mouth and throat are capable 
of distension, in consequence of which, a snake is 
often known to swallow animals many times larger 
than itself. Some of the largest of snakes, such as 
the boa constrictor and anaconda reach a length of 
thirty or forty feet. As a proof of their great mus- 
cular strength, it needs only be stated that either of 
them can easily crush the bones of a sheep or a deer 
by the embrace of its powerful coils. 

The ordinary black, striped and water snakes of 
America are harmless in their bite, though usually 
held in great dread. Their chief food consists of 
small animals such as mice and rats, frogs, toads, 



SNAKES. 79 

and birds, which seem to be overcome with fear at 
the presence of a snake, and so become a ready prey 
to the devourer. 

The rattlesnake on the other hand is of so venom- 
ous a character that its bite is commonly fatal to 
large animals, and even to man. 

An examination of figure 13 will aid in gaining a 
clear idea as to the manner in which the poisonous 
bite is inflicted. 




Fig. 13.— Rattlesnake's skull, showing the fangs. 

In the upper jaw are two fangs or curved teeth 
which are hollow, and connected with a little sac or 
pouch containing the deadly poison. This is injected 
into the wound made by the two fangs whenever the 
animal bites. 

The rattlesnake derives its name from a series of 
hard, horn-like rings on the tail, with which the rep- 
tile produces a peculiar rattling noise whenever dis- 
turbed. Were it not for this warning sound, the ani- 
mal would be even more dreaded than it is. In 
color it is usually two shades, of brown with points 
of yellow. The arrangement of the rattles, as well as 



80 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



the general shape and appearance of the rattlesnake 
may be fairly understood from figure 14. 

The poison from any venomous serpent seems of 
little effect unless introduced into the blood of the 
body, which of course is the case whenever a bite 

from such a snake 
is received on the 
flesh; and in these 
emergencies, quick 
and efficient meas- 
ures should be tak- 
en. If possible,let the 
wound be promptly 
and vigorously suck- 
ed; there is no dan- 
ger of injury from 
drawing the venom 
into the mouth, un- 
less sores or abra- 
sions exist on the 

lips or within. The 
; Fig. 14. — Rattlesnake. j i u i 

wound should also 

be enlarged by a cut from a sharp knife — unless, of 
course, located where such surgery would be danger- 
ous. If the bite be on a limb, a tight ligature should 
be bound on the side of the wound toward the heart 
so as to prevent as much as possible the spread of the 
poison through the medium of the circulating blood. 
The injured part may with great advantage be 
washed with hartshorn, or ammonia, previously 
diluted with twenty times its bulk of water; and 




REPTILES. 81 

with alcohol. Small quantities of alcoholic liquor 
may very properly be taken inwardly at such time: 
but the common belief that the injured person's 
chances of recovery are in direct proportion to the 
amount of liquor drunk by him, is erroneous. 

Lizards are reptiles, usually possessing a long, 
slender body and tail, and a comparatively large 
mouth, well filled with teeth. Many pretty and 
harmless creatures of this class are found in our Utah 
valleys, but none of a venomous kind. In tropical 
lands, lizards are met with, whose bite is dangerous 

The Horned Toad, of the Western plains, is a 
true lizard, the name toad, being a great misnomer; 
though its broad and comparatively short boby, is 
an exception to the ordinary shape of lizards. The 
head is provided with spines and the body is covered 
with tubercles, suggesting the character of a mail- 
clad reptilian knight; this armor, however, is about 
its only means of protection. It is a timid, harmless 
little creature; and in the warm, Southwestern States, 
is tamed as a house pet. A very slight degree of 
cold causes it to become torpid and inactive. 

Chameleons are peculiar and interesting lizards 
found only in the warm portions of the Old World, 
and possessing a number of strange distinctive 
features. The tongue is really a long tube, with an 
enlargement on the end, and can be darted out with 
unlooked-for rapidity, if a small insect comes within 
its reach. The chameleon's eyes can be moved inde- 
pendently of each other— a strange feature, and one 
that imparts to the animal a most remarkable appear- 



82: FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

aace at times. Then its tail is prehensile, that is, it 
can be used for grasping and holding branches of 
trees — and this is an unusual power among reptiles. 
The skin does not adhere to the body in all parts; 
spaces are left into which air at times enters, 
causing the skin to expand, and the whole body to 
appear enormously inflated; perhaps in less than a 
minute following one of such actions, the air cells 
are emptied, and the animal appears curiously lean 
and shrunken. In addition to these peculiarities, 
the creature is able to modify the color of its skin by 
expanding or contracting certain pigment cells situ- 
ated just below the cuticle or outer layer of the skin, 
by which means the chameleon assumes the tint of 
the tree or ground upon which it happens to be, and 
so is in far less danger of detection by its enemies 

The largest members of the whole lizard tribe, often 
reaching a length of thirty feet, are the dreaded Croco- 
diles of Africa and India; then follow in order the 
somewhat smaller Alligators of the Southern States 
of America. The crocodile infests the rivers and sea 
shores, and surpasses even the fiercest of carnivorous 
mammalia in its powers of destruction. Its favorite 
method of attack is to remain concealed on or near 
the river shore till some animal or man draws near; 
then by a swift movement of its powerful tail the 
victim is stunned, and if not at once thrown into the 
water by the force of the blow, is seized and dragged 
beneath the surface, there drowned and devoured at 
the pleasure of its captor. 

The alligators of America, though smaller than 



REPTILES. 83 

their African relatives, are yet deservedly dreaded 
in their native swamps. As winter approaches, the 
alligators usually bury themselves in the mud, on 
the margins of their summer homes, and there sleep 
till the warmth of spring awakens them to a life of 
cruel rapacity. Travelers relate the thrilling concern 
with which they have sometimes viewed the heaving 
and swelling of a baked mud patch in the early 
part of the year; at such a sight they usually seek 
a place of safety without idle delay, knowing well 
that a hungry alligator is there throwing off the covers 
of its winter bed and getting ready for breakfast. 

The Indians of the south usually capture the 
alligator by baiting a huge hook with meat, then 
securing 'it to a long stout rope, and placing it in a 
promising locality. When hooked, the huge game 
is soon drawn ashore and despatched with clubs. A 
method more ingenious and effective is practised oif 
the banks of the Orinoco iu South America. A 
bamboo, or some other elastic tree near the water is 
selected, the top is then bent down to the butt, and 
a baited hook is attached to the depressed top 
by a stout line. The tree is so arranged that 
its top is automatically released the instant a strain 
is felt upon the line; and consequently as soon as 
the alligator seizes the bait the tree forthwith 
straightens itself with great velocity and the victim 
is dragged from the water. 

Alligators seem to hold dogs in high favor as food, 
and it is said the voracious creatures may be enticed 
from the water by the real or imitated bark of a dog. 



84 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

CHAPTER XVI. 

FROGS AND TOADS. 

@j5jHESE strange creatures undergo such wonder- 
ful changes in the course of their life, that 
there is very little resemblance between the 
young and the adult. Their eggs may be seen 
during the early spring floating in the water of 
ditches and ponds, and looking like numerous black 
specks enclosed in a mass of jelly; those of the frog 
existing in large clusters, while the toad eggs are 
joined in long glutinous strings. Under the warm 
rays of the sun, these soon develop into small living 
structures, each looking much like a very little fish, 
with a disproportionate head and a flattened tail. 
These are called Tadpoles or Polly wogs. They live 
wholly in the water, are entirely destitute of limbs, 
and breathe by means of gills, as do fishes. These 
gills are seen as little feathery appendages on the 
sides of the head. In this stage of their existence 
they are extremely active, and grow with great 
rapidity; but soon, changes far more striking than 
mere increase in size manifest themselves. The legs 
are seen to grow, the hind ones appearing first. As 
these appendages become larger, the tail diminishes 
in size, and finally is entirely absorbed: the gills at 
the same time disappear, and to supply their place 
lungs are developed within the body. All traces of 
the fish-like tadpole are soon obliterated, and the 
mature toad or frog is the result. Originally a 



FROGS AND TOADS. 



85 



thoroughly aquatic animal, it becomes in adult life 
of an aerial or air-breathing nature, though it is 
still able to remain for considerable time submerged 
in water; it can only breathe, however, in the air. 
In figure 15 are shown the principal stages in the 
wonderful development of a frog or toad. 




Fig. 15. — Tadpole changes. 

Figure 1 6 represents the skeleton or bony frame- 
work of the adult frog. 

Frogs may be distin- 
guished from toads by 
their stronger hind legs, 
their large horny ears 
seen just behind the 
eyes and the presence 
of teeth in the upper 
jaw. Both feed largely 
Fig. 16.— Skeleton of a Frog. U p 0n insects, and to 
aid in capturing their winged prey the tongue is 
made very long and supple, and fastened at the 
front of the mouth, so .that the greater part 
when inactive reaches down the throat. Yet the 
animal can dart this forward with surprising quick- 
ness and unerring accuracy upon any unlucky fly 
that may venture within range. Unlike most cold- 




86 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

blooded animals the frog and the toad are endowed 
with powers of voice, and these too of no low order. 
The croaking bull-frog of American waters may be 
heard at the distance of a mile, in fact it has re- 
ceived its impressive name from the low, bellowing 
tone of its voice; while the gentle warbling chirp — it 
can scarcely be called a croak — of the festive toads, 
as they congregate in still ponds and quiet marshes 
on a summer evening and indulge in their mutual 
serenade, is known to all. Many people believe the 
toad to be of a venomous nature, whereas it has no 
means of wilfully injuring anything larger than a fly 
or a moth. Of insects, however, it destroys great 
numbers, and deserves therefore a more considerate 
protection than is commonly awarded to it. The 
toad's skin is frequently seen covered with drops of 
moisture even though the creature be at a considera- 
ble distance from water; this is a fluid which exudes 
from the skin under certain conditions, very much as 
does the perspiration of our own bodies. This fluid, 
which appears in greatest quantity if the toad be an- 
noyed or frightened, is really of an acrid irritating 
nature and produces unpleasant and even severe 
smarting if conveyed to one's hand through touch- 
ing a toad, and thence to the eyes. A dog is often 
seen to snap a toad in his mouth as if in a freak of 
sport; but he usually drops his plaything with a yelp 
of surprise, caused without doubt from the irritating 
effect of this exudation, upon the delicate lining 
membrane of the mouth. 

During the winter frogs and toads hibernate in 



FROGS AND TOADS. 87 

large companies, having previously buried themselves 
deep in the soft earth. 

Frogs and toads, and several other animals that 
pass through similar peculiar changes of growth are 
called by naturalists amphibians, a word meaning 
"with a double life," because they pass part of their 
lives in water, breathing by means of gills as do the 
fishes, and spend the other part of their existence on 
land, breathing through lungs as do true reptiles or 
any of the other animals of which we have thus far 
spoken.* 

Naturalists who have traveled and studied much, 
tell us of many rare and peculiar forms of frogs and 
toads to be found in various parts of the world 
though not common with us here. There is a some- 
what remarkable variety of the former called the 
Tree Frog, common in many parts of the globe. It 
is a smaller animal than the ordinary frog, and, as 
its name indicates, lives mostly on trees. To properly 
fit the animal for such a life, several wise provisions 
have been made by the Creator. In the first place, 
each toe of the tree frog is terminated by a small 
pad, looking and operating much like the leathern 

* In this class belong the different varieties of Newts of 
which some are found hereabouts, and the curious Sal- 
amanders regarding which so many strange and exagger- 
ated stories are told. It is incorrectly said they can 
remain in fire without injury; the only fact upon which 
such a statement rests being that these animals are able 
to cover themselves with a sort of milky fluid or perspira- 
tion, which perhaps protects them in a small degree from 
moderate heat. 



88 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

suckers with which boys often amuse themselves. 
These little cushions are covered with a sort of glue; 
and by their action the animals cling tight to the 
trunks or branches of trees. Then again these frogs 
are of a singular color; — a sort of dull green, very 
much resembling the hue of the leaves among which 
they live and move. Such is an odd color for an 
animal, but to the tree-frog such an oddity is a matter 
of very great advantage, as by it the little creature 
can lie among the leaves and branches with very 
little danger of being discovered. But its sight is 
just as keen as if it were of some bright and con- 
trasting color. It can see therefore with little danger 
of being seen, and is consequently able to lie safely 
in wait for the insects which form its chief food. 
Tree-frogs are capital trappers and hunters, and a 
study of their ways is an interesting and deeply 
instructive lesson. The voice of the tree-frog is 
mellow and agreeable in comparison with that of 
other species; it is heard chiefly in the cool of the 
morning and evening. 

Among toads there is a very strange individual 
called the Pipa or Surinam Toad, found on this 
continent only in some parts of Guiana and Brazil. 
Unlike ordinary toads it has very small eyes, and no 
tongue. But the distinguishing feature about this 
queer creature is the manner in which its eggs are 
hatched. Our common kinds of toads always deposit 
their eggs in the water and then abandon them; but 
not so with the Surinam Toad. The female takes 
the eggs, as soon as laid, upon her back, where they 



FISHES. 89 

soon sink beneath the skin, forming each for itself a 
little socket or hole. The heat of the body soon 
hatches the eggs, and it is a funny sight to see the 
young brood in their queer nests. 



C t 



CHAPTER XVII. 

FISHES. 

8S?HE animals, about which we talked last, viz., 

19s the frogs and toads, and their kindred, were 
seen to live part of the time in water and 
part of the time on land. Fishes, however, 
seem intended, by the Creator, to pass the whole of 
their lives in water. Let us examine carefully, either 
of our common stream fishes, such as a trout, a chub, or 
a herring, and we will discover a great many valuable 
facts about the curious lives these finny creatures 
pass in their watery home. 

In the first place, we cannot fail to observe the 
slender form and regular shape of the fish. There 
are no irregularities about it as are to be seen in 
other animal bodies; not even a depression, where 
the neck would seem to be. This spindle form 
enables the fish to move more readily through the 
water; any irregularity in shape, on the other hand, 
would tend to retard the swimmer. 

Men have learned this, among many other lessons, 
from the animal world; they now build their marine 
torpedoes, which are to be shot with great speed 



90 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



through the water — in a form very much like that of 
an ordinary fish. 

Now let us look at the sail-like appendages on the 
back and sides of the body, the fins and the tail. 
These serve the fish as means of propelling and 
steering itself through the water; the tail operating 
chiefly as a sculling-oar and the fins serving to 
balance and direct the animal in its rapid course. 
Then there are to be noticed the scales with which 
most fishes are covered — so different from the hair, 
fur, wool or feathers, which form the dress of most 
land animals. These scales are inserted separately 
in folds of the true skin beneath, and they are made 
to overlap each other as do the shingles or slates on 
a roof, the free edges all being directed backward. 
The whole surface is covered with a slimy, oil-like 
matter which is also effectual in aiding rapid motion 
through the water. 




Fig. 17.— Skeleton of a Fish. • 

A fair idea of the plan after which the body of the 
fish is shaped may be obtained from a careful study 
of the skeleton as represented in figure 17. 

From the fact that fishes naturally live in the 



FISHES, 91 

water throughout their whole existence, some people 
think that they do not need air by which to breathe 
as do other animals. But fishes offer no exception 
to the rule; they, like other animals, must receive 
air into their bodies, by which the blood is purified, 
or they die. We all well know that if a land animal 
such as a dog or a fowl, be closely confined in a box 
or a small room, as soon as all the air contained 
therein has been breathed and rendered impure, 
the animal is suffocated to death. So with fishes; if 
they be deprived of a free supply of fresh air, they 
will suffer and die. Naturally, fishes breathe the air 
contained in the water- in which they live. That 
water does so contain air — entangled perhaps between 
the liquid particles — may be readily proved by 
watching an open vessel of water when placed over 
the fire. In a very short time after heat is first 
applied — long before the water has become heated so 
as to produce steam, bubbles are seen to rise to the 
surface and there break and escape. These bubbles 
are portions of the air originally contained in the 
water; and upon this supply the living inhabitants 
of the liquid element subsist. 

A very conclusive, though cruel experiment is 
often performed to illustrate and prove this fact. If 
a vessel of water be boiled so that all the air con- 
tained in it is driven away and if then it be cooled 
to the ordinary temperature, and a small fish intro- 
duced into it, the little creature swims around as if in 
agony for a short time, keeping its mouth close to 
the surface seeking what little air it can reach, but 



92 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

soon it becomes exhausted and dies. It has been 
drowned in fact for want of air. It is true that fishes 
do not need as much air as land animals do; the 
water in which they live usually contains air suf- 
ficient for their use. Instead of lungs, fishes have 
peculiar organs called gills, so constructed as to 
readily separate the air from the water; and this, the 
lungs of animals are unable to do. These gills are 
seen on the sides of the head, looking like small, 
blood-red feathers, fixed to arches of bone; there are 
usually four of them on each side, covered by a hard, 
bony lid, called the gill-cover, or operculum. By 
watching a fish quietly at rest in the water, we may 
easily see how these peculiar organs are used. We 
notice the little swimmer continually opening and 
closing its mouth, and just as regularly, the gill- 
covers are seen to rise and fall — in fact, water is 
constantly being taken in through the mouth, and 
driven out between the gills, from under the gill- 
covers, thoroughly bathing the little feathery fringes 
with a continuous supply of fresh water charged 
with the life-giving air. 

Through the filaments of the gills blood is con- 
stantly flowing in very fine vessels or tubes; there 
are so many of them that if looked at with a magni- 
fying glass, the gills appear almost like bundles of 
blood-vessels; it is the large quantity of blood in 
these vessels that gives to the gills their bright red 
color. While passing through the gills, the blood is 
purified by the action of the air, and cleansed from 
the many foul matters with which it had become 



FISHES. 93 

contaminated in its former courses through the body, 
and is again started on its rounds to invigorate and 
to strengthen. These fringe-like gills are kept apart 
from each other by the action of the water passing 
between them; but when a fish is taken from the 
water the fringes fall together and become dry, 
although supplied more plentifully than usual with 
air. Some fishes can keep their gill-covers forcibly 
closed for considerable time in the air, so that the 
feathery gills beneath are kept moist; such fishes live 
much longer than others out of water. 

A fish weighs almost exactly the same as a quan- 
tity of water equal in bulk to itself, consequently it 
has no tendency through its weight alone either to 
rise or fall in the w r ater, and a very slight change is 
sufficient to enable it to move easily up or down. 
There is found inside the fish's body and near the 
back bone a peculiar membranous sack called the 
swimming-bladder, filled with air, and capable of 
being contracted or enlarged at pleasure. When the 
fish compresses this bladder by a muscular effort the 
bulk is decreased, though the weight in reality 
remains the same, and consequently the fish sinks. 
On the other hand, if the fish removes the pressure 
from the bladder of air so that it assumes a larger 
size, the bulk of the fish is increased, whereas its 
weight remains unchanged, and as a consequence the 
animal rises toward the surface. 

The eyes of fish are generally large and motion- 
less and as they are kept constantly moist by the 
water in which the animals live, there is no need 



94 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

of protecting lids or lashes, nor of any apparatus to 
produce tears, which are of such service in our own 
eyes, by preventing the delicate coverings from 
becoming dry. Only a thin transparent skin covers 
the most delicate parts of the eye. 

Most fishes are voracious feeders,* living mostly 
upon the various kinds of aquatic animals inhabit- 
ing the same water; indeed many of them feed on 
fishes smaller than themselves, and do not always 
hesitate to include their own young in their bill of 
fare. 

Most fishes have large mouths, containing several 
rows of teeth; the tongue and palate are also very 
frequently covered with teeth; while others, devoid 
of teeth, habitually swallow their food whole. 

Fishes are generally oviparous, that is to say they 
are hatched from eggs previously deposited in the 
water. Most of them are prolific to an astonishing 
degree, a single salmon being known to lay some- 
times twenty thousand eggs; a herring over sixty 
thousand, and a cod-fish frequently deposits nine 
millions of eggs. In contrast with this there are 
some fishes that deposit but very few eggs; and here 
is another illustration of Divine wisdom; the fishes 

* "At a lecture delivered before the Zoological Society 
of Dublin, Dr. Houston exhibited as 'a fair sample of a 
fish's breakfast' a frog-fish two and a half feet long, in 
the stomach of which was a codfish two feet in length. 
The cod's stomach contained the bodies of two whitings 
of ordinary size; and the whitings in their turn held the 
half-digested remains of many smaller fishes, too much 
broken up to be identified. 



SOME PISHES. 95 

most useful to man are of all the most abundantly 
prolific, while the dangerous and injurious kinds 
multiply but slowly. 




CHAPTER XVIII. 

SOME FISHES. 

g£?0 ATTEMPT any sort of a description of the 
different classes or kinds of fishes, is almost a 
hopeless undertaking, from their wonderful and 
surprising number. There are no less than 
ten thousand kinds of fishes now known and in part 
described. The ordinary fresh water fishes of our 
rivers and lakes exhibit the features already pointed 
out; but for species of almost incredible size and 
strength, the finny denizens of the ocean must be 
examined. 

Many sea fishes, as for instance shad and salmon, 
go up the rivers aud deposit their eggs in fresh water; 
the young fry, however, soon seek the briny ele- 
ment. Among salt water fishes, some are of migratory 
or wandering habits, appearing off certain coasts 
regularly at particular seasons. It is found to be a 
fact also, that individual fishes frequently visit the 
same place year after year. This interesting item 
has been proved by fishermen taking fishes from the 
uets, marking them and setting them at liberty again. 
The same marked fishes have been re-caught year 
after year. 



96 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Among ocean fishes, the Sharks are of great inter- 
est. Sharks grow sometimes to a length of thirty 
feet, and all varieties of them are extremely ferocious. 
They are the tigers of the ocean, the dread and the 
scourge of all other inhabitants of the deep. Their 
covering is not scaly, but formed of a hard, tough, 
leathery skin, and the bones are soft and gristle-like. 
Such bones are said to be cartilaginous in structure. 

The shark's mouth is comparatively large and filled 
with numerous rows of sharp, lance-like teeth. These 
readily attack men who may be swimming or diving 
in the water, and are able to bite off a human leg 
with ease at a single snap. 

Though these savage monsters are doubtlessly in- 
tended to be butchers and destroyers, the Creator 
has wisely checked their facilities for unrestricted 
slaughter. The shark's mouth is not at the end of 
the nose as is the case with most fishes, but under- 
neath the head — much as the mouth of a hog is situ- 
ated. The shark therefore is unable to bite without 
first turning over on its back; and while doing this, 
its intended victims sometimes make good their 
escape. * 

* Many accounts of shark fishing have been given; and 
the following is taken from one of our popular works on 
zoology, the author of which quotes it from some unspeci- 
fied source: — "I was holding the heavy hook and wire 
rope over the side, when I felt that I had caught a big 
fish, and pulling it cautiously, a shark came to the surface. 
I called out, when the passengers ran to my help. He 
struggled so violently, lashing the water with his tail and 
trying to bite the hook asunder, that we were obliged to 
keep dipping his head under the water and then haul him 



SOME FISHES. 97 

The Sword-fish often reaches a length of from 
twelve to fifteen feet. It owes its celebrity and its 
name to a peculiar elongation of its upper jaw into a 
kind of dagger, called its sword, of surprising 
strength. This it uses in transfixing its prey, and 
some species have so powerful a sword, that they 
have been known to drive it for a third of its length 
through the copper-covered hull of a vessel. There 
is preserved in the British Museum an interesting 
specimen, it being a part of a ship's side with a sword 
of a sword-fish thrust through. 

The Saw-fish is appropriately named from the 
notched or toothed prolongation of its jaw. This is 
a formidable weapon, and the owner is not afraid to 
attack with it any inhabitant of the sea; even the 
gigantic whale not being exempt. 

The Flying-fish, about which so many "fish 
stories" have been told, is a brilliantly colored crea- 

up two or three feet to let it run down his throat. At last 
he was nearly drowned, when, sending a running bow-line 
down the rope by which he was caught, and making it 
taut under his back fin, we clapped it round the steam 
winch, and turned the steam on. Some then hauled him 
up while all available hands dragged at the other line, 
which held his head. As soon as we got him on board he 
broke off about three feet of the ship's bulwarks by a 
single lash of his tremendous tail. This was then cut off 
by the boatswain with a hatchet, while a dozen of us with 
bowie-knives finished him. We found in his stomach six 
large snakes, two empty quart bottles, two dozen lobsters, 
and a sheep-skin with the horns and shank-bones, which 
the cook had thrown overboard two days before. The 
liver filled two large wash-deck tubs, and when tried out 
gave us ten gallons of oil," 



98 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

ture with very broad pectoral or breast fins, so large 
in fact, that when the animal swims with great 
velocity to the surface of the water, these fins sus- 
tain the impetus for a sufficient time to bear the fish 
a considerable distance through the air. It cannot 
flap the tins at all, neither change the direction of 
its so-called "flight" when once in the air; and it 
falls into the water again at the expiration of a short 
time. 

Then there is the so-called Fishing Frog, common 
about the coasts of Europe and America. Its bead 
is so large that the rest of the body looks much like 
a mere appendage thereto. The wide mouth is lined 
with long and sharp teeth. The front, or pectoral 
fins are so large and spiny, that they support the 
weight of the body when the creature rests upon 
them; and this it often does, seeming really to walk, 
or crawl along the bottom of the sea. All around 
the head, and on some parts of its body are fringed 
outgrowths, looking very much like the sea-weeds, 
among which it usually lies concealed. Along the 
top of the creature's head, in the median line, are 
three long filaments, the first terminating in a kind 
of drooping fringe. This is the fisher's bait; by 
lying quiet in the weeds and causing its brightly- 
colored filaments to wave back and forth, it readily 
attracts the smaller fishes of the neighborhood, who 
seem to be deceived by the bait, thinking it to be, 
perhaps, a worm, or an insect; as soon as they are 
within easy range, by a quick movement, they are 
engulfed in the capacious gape. 



INSECTS. 99 

A very large fish family are knowu under the 
name of Flat Fish. They usually lie while at rest 
flat on one side at or near the bottom of the water; 
but while swimming they take the usual vertical 
position. The under side is light-colored, and the 
upper surface dark — a provision of Nature shown also 
in the case of other fish — by which they are difficult to 
see from above or below, the dark upper side appear- 
ing much of the same color as the bottom; and the 
light under surface being scarcely visible from below. 
In the case of the turbot — a common flat fish, the 
eyes are both placed on the same side of the head. 
When the fish rests upon its side, this is the position 
of greatest service. 

For the description of many interesting fishes, the 
reader is recommended to any good work on Zoology. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

INSECTS. 

[EXT to the joyous song of birds, there is per- 
haps no sound more pleasing to the ear than 
the merry buzz and cheerful hum of insects 
abroad among the flowers, in the brilliant 
summer time. They seem so happy in their darting 
flight; stopping here to sip a tiny drop of nectar 
from the lncern or clover flower; and yonder to pick 
honey from the wild blossoms of the roadside: chas- 
ing each other through the air with untrammeled 




100 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

gaiety, and all the unconcern of romping schoolboys — 
every day seems a holiday with them. 

Yet oftentimes when we think that they are sport- 
ing in the depths of fun they are in reality accom- 
plishing the work of their lives; but they have 
acquired the happy faculty of looking upon labor 
with joy and of taking pleasure in their work. Here 
is a lesson for us from the butterflies and the bees. 

Most of these little' winged beauties seem deter- 
mined to extract all the pleasure and joy that life 
can lend, as if they realize that their time of exist- 
ence is very brief. 

Some of them live but a day in a full)'- developed 
state; but before reaching that perfection they pass 
through great and complicated changes, occupying 
weeks and in the case of some insects even years. 

A more wonderful series of changes than that 
which is shown in the course of an insect's life, it is 
difficult to imagine. There appears, for instance, but 
little resemblance between the green caterpillar so 
often seen crawling about the cabbages, amusing 
itself by making sieves of the leaves, and the white 
or yellow butterfly noticed a short time after; yet 
the caterpillar is in truth the baby butterfly. It will 
be worth the trouble to capture a few of these cater- 
pillars, and keep them under observation during the 
time of their growth, supplying them with plenty of 
leaves upon which to feed. 

The caterpillar is usually called the larva of the 
insect — this word means literally a mask and is 
applied in this way because the insect seems to be in 



INSECTS. 101 

a sort of disguise, the future appearance of the fully 
developed insect not^being at all recognizable. Most 
insects in the larval condition are prodigious feeders; 
they seem to consider eating as the main object of 
their existence; and in consequence many of them 
prove pests and nuisances to man. Their growth 
is so rapid that at very short intervals they find 
themselves too big for their skin; whenever this 
is the case, the skin is cast away, as one might discard 
an outgrown coat, and another covering soon comes in 
its place. 

After several of such "moults" have occurred, the 
larva seems to lose its appetite; it seeks some quiet 
and sheltered place, under a leaf, or in a crevice of 
a building or the bark of a tree, or perhaps it 
buries itself in the earth, and there prepares for a long 
sleep. This preparation consists in very carefully 
constructing a sleeping apartment; it may be a woven 
chamber of fine silk called the cocoon in which the 
larva incloses itself — or perhaps the little creature 
forms a cell in the earth or on a tree, and lines this 
with its own fine-spim silk; in other cases it becomes 
coated with a hard leathery shell, in which the out- 
lines of the future insect, its wings, feet etc. can be 
readily traced. In this case the little thing does not 
look unlike a miniature baby trussed up in its swad- 
ling clothes; and from such resemblance the insect 
in this stage is called a pupa, from an ancient word 
meaning an infant. Many of these pupae are to be 
found in the spring lying on the newly plowed land 
as they have been turned up by the plow from their 



102 FIRST BOOK OF| NATURE. 

underground sleeping quarters. But soon another 
change follows; the pupa case, whether leathery shell 
or silken cocoon, bursts open, and the winged insect 
called the imago issues therefrom. 

In figure nineteen are shown the larva and imago 
of one of our common moths; and in figure twenty 
may be seen the larva, pupa, and imago of the 
mosquito. 

Let us capture a butterfly or a moth, or in fact any 
flying insect, and carefully look at its parts. A large 
volume could well be written upon the wonderful 
structure of an insect's body. Its head is seen to 
bear two appendages looking something like horns; 
these are smooth in the butterfly, jointed in the 
beetle, and feathered or plume-like in the moth. 
These peculiar organs are called antenna; and they 
seem to serve important purposes in the insect's little 
life. With them it feels, and perhaps also smells. 
By their aid insects seem able to converse with one 
another, and so perfect their understanding appears 
to be that Huber, a great naturalist, has called this 
system of communication antennal language. Watch 
a couple oi ants from the same nest when they meet; 
they approach and seem to tap each other with their 
antennas in a very significant way, and apparently 
with perfect success. It is not hard to imagine that 
they are making a mutual report as tD the results of 
the morning's hunt for food; or perhaps consulting as 
to the best way home, or discussing the affairs of 
their ant-world in general. 

Look carefully now at the insect's eye — it is far 



BEES AND WASPS. 103 

different from the visual organs of most other ani- 
mals. By the assistance of a magnifying glass we 
shall doubtless discover a most remarkable arrange- 
ment. Select for instance the large, prominent eye 
of the dragon-fly for examination. It seems to 
be made up of a great many brilliant little plates 
placed edge to edge like the facets on the surface of 
a cut diamond. Each of these facets or plates faces 
in a different direction, so that although the insect's 
eye is fixed and immovable in its place, yet by its 
peculiar shape and setting the little creature is aWe 
to see in nearly all directions. Such an eye is said 
to be compound in distinction from the simple eye of 
most other animals, which consists of but one ball 
and face. In the ant's eye there are fifty such facets, 
in the eye of the common house-fly over four thou- 
sand, some butterflies possess upwards of seventeen 
thousand, and many beetles show over twenty-five 
thousand. We are not able to tell the range of in- 
sect vision; some of the tiniest have to all appear- 
ances powers of sight but poorly imitated by man 
even with his wondrous microscopes. 



CHAPTER XX. 

BEES AND WASPS. 

tfjsajEES and wasps, and all their relatives, are pro- 

oSSi vided with thin, nearly transparent wings. 

&£a Bees have a short body, covered with crisp, 

3a) dark hair; the first joint of the hind legs is, in 

comparison, very large, with grooves and channels 



104 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

upon it, for collecting and carrying the pollen of 
flowers. They are very industrious little creatures, 
living generally in communities, in which, there 
appears to be a most perfect system of organization. 

A queen bee, is recognized in each colony; she is 
the only perfectly developed female among them all; 
and by her, all the eggs are produced. Beside the 
queen, there are workers and drones, the latter, 
being the male bees, and, for the most part, con- 
summate idlers; they are stung to death by the 
workers, without mercy, as soon as the pairing season 
is over. 

The honey-comb, which is manufactured by the 
bees from the pollen of flowers, is built in the form 
of numerous little rooms, or cells, each six-sided in 
form, and all placed side by side, so that each divid- 
ing partition is in fact a wall for two cells at once. 
This is the shape by which all the waste room between 
the cells is avoided, and at the same time the struct- 
ure is the strongest imaginable, and the amount of 
wax employed in the construction, is the smallest. 

The division of labor within the hive, seems to be 
most perfect; the workers laboring with such pre- 
cision, that an ordinary swarm of bees can construct 
upwards of four thousand comb-cells within twenty- 
four hours. As soon as the cells are completed, the 
working bees industriously gather the nectar and 
sweet juices of flowers, and store the same as honey 
within the comb. The value of this delicious 
material, as one of our most wholesome sweets, is 
known and appreciated by us all. It has always 



BEES AND WASPS. 



105 



been held in high esteem; — Deseret, the honey-bee, 
was carried by the Nephites of old, from place to place 
in their wanderings, and gave the sweet fruits of its 
industry for sustenance and enjoyment. 

Humble Bees, or, as they are sometimes named, 
Bumble Bees, are considerably larger than the 
ordinary honey bees. They are of a wild nature, 
preferring not to accept any of the provisions that 
men may make for their residence, such as hives or 
boxes; they usually build their nests under the 
surface of tne ground, or beneath a large stone or 
some such object. 

Figure 18 shows the humble bee, natural size, and 
its peculiarly-shaped honey cells. 

The bees already 
spoken of are some- 
times called social 
bees from their in- 
stinctive association 
in communities; but 
beside such, there 
are a number of bees 
that lead a more se- 
cluded life, each liv- 
ing by itself; all such 
are termed for dis- 

Fig.18. — Humble Bee and its honey " 

ceils. bees. Of these there 

are some that build for themselves little cells, covered 

with sand grains or small stones fastened together by 

means of a sticky fluid formed in their mouths; these 




106 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

are called Mason Bees. Then there are the truly 
ingenious little Carpenter Bees, those that bore 
holes in dry tree trunks and the like, in which they 
deposit their eggs. In each of the cells so formed, 
along with the eggs, they lay away a store of pollen 
gathered from flowers, to serve as food for the larvae, 
as soon as hatched from the eggs. And still another 
kind are noted for their wonderful skill in shaping 
cells from leaves; they cut and fashion these leaves 
with all the precision of trained workers, and they 
fully deserve their title of Upholsterer Bees. 

Many kinds of Wasps show a remarkable dexterity 
in the construction of their homes. They usually 
build with a stout sort of paper which they produce 
by first gnawing wood to a fine powder, and then 
mixing it with the saliva to form a kind of pulp; 
this dries and becomes very hard and tough in 
the air. It is only during the last few years that 
man has learned to follow the example so long set 
by these humble insects — using of wood in paper- 
making. From this tough material the "paper wasps" 
build their cells, six-sided in form like the cells 
of the honey-bee's comb. The wasps arrange their 
cells within the nest in stories or floors of different 
levels, each floor being suspended from the one 
above it by stout rods of paper. Wasps build their 
nests as homes for themselves and their young and 
not for the storing of food. They do not gather or 
eat honey as do bees, but feed on insects more 
defenseless than themselves. 

The Hornet is a large and fierce kind of wasp, 



BEES AND WASPS. 107 

which lives in a paper house constructed as before 
described and usually hung from the branch of a 
tree. Such nests frequently measure from one and 
a half to two feet in diameter. The inmates are so 
pugnacious in their dispositions, and so ready to 
resent any intrusion on their domains, that one has 
usually cause to regret his temerity in approaching 
the paper mansion too closely. 

The Mud Wasps construct with great skill and 
precision small cylindrical cells of mud, the material 
for which they temper and mix as carefully as a 
brickmaker does his clay. These are used only as 
depositories for the eggs and as nurseries for the 
young. As soon as a cell is completed, the wasp 
places an egg or two within, then fills the remaining 
space with spiders or caterpillars or the like, and 
seals up the opening. These imprisoned insects are 
designed to serve as food for the larvae as soon as de- 
veloped from the eggs; for these infantile wasps seem 
to inherit and show from their birth the prodigious 
appetites and ravenous dispositions of their parents. 

The female insects of nearly all of the wasp and 
bee families sting severely if angered. The sting of 
the working bee is curved, so that when thrust into 
the flesh of an animal it is held there; it is usually 
therefore torn from the stinger's body and remains 
in the wound. Such is not true of the stings be- 
longing to the queen bee and the wasps, which are 
straight and can be repeatedly used without serious 
injury to the owner, but always with considerable 
inconvenience to the unfortunate victim. 



108 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

The sting is connected with a poison gland, from 
which an irritating fluid issues and enters the 
wound whenever the sting is used. 

The effects are in all cases painful and in some 
actually dangerous to health and life. In case of 
such a sting, great relief may be gained from rub- 
bing a little dilute ammonia (hartshorn as it is fre- 
quently named) -over the affected part. If this be 
not obtainable, a little soda dissolved in water may 
be used. The poison from the sting is of an acid 
character and any weak alkali will tend to neutralize 
it and diminish the distressing effects.* Even mud, 
if applied immediately after the injury, will afford 
relief, owing to the action of the free alkali always 
present, though in very small quantity, in the earth. 

Most of us have perhaps observed at times a 
number of small hard swellings on the leaves of such 
plants as the oak, willow, or rose. These so-called 
galls are produced through punctures in the leaves 
made by insects very much like bees and wasps in 
character, and known as Gall Flies. Let us cut 
through some of these galls with a sharp knife; 
within we[are apt to find either eggs or young gall- 
flies; or perhaps a little hole through the side of the 
gall, tells us that the tenant has already taken his 
breakfast and left home. As soon as hatched the 

♦Ordinary prudence will indicate the care to be used in 
applying any remedy if the injury be near the eye or any 
such delicate part of the body. In such a case, the appli- 
cation may cause greater trouble than the original injury, 
unless very feeble solutions are used. 



ANTS, GRASSHOPPERS, BUTTERFLIES. 109 

larva feeds vigorously on the soft, pulpy material of 
the gall, which strange food seems to be of all kinds 
best adapted to its nature. Nut-galls formed on oak 
trees in tropical parts are used very extensively in 
the manufacture of ink and other coloring matters, 
and also in medicine. 




CHAPTER XXI. 

ANTS, GRASSHOPPERS AND BUTTERFLIES. 

p^SSNTS are usually wingless for the greater part 
of their lives; in fact they voluntarily tear 
off their wings as soon as a place has been 
selected for a permanent residence. Most of 
them live underground, their houses being marked 
by mounds of sand, or earth, or, even such loose 
material as bits of sticks and the like. The 
interior arrangement of the ant-dwelling shows 
numerous chambers and halls, in which food is 
stored, and the young are protected and reared. 
These little creatures seem to live under a remark- 
able system of organization and government. The 
wise man of old gave good advice when he said: 
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways 
and be wise." Within the ant kingdom, labor is 
divided, and each inhabitant follows the profession 
for which it is best fitted; some of them are builders, 
others hunters, and some do nothing else but fight; 
these are soldiers by profession, and seemingly take 
no part in ordinary labor and household duties. 



110 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Most ants are extremely fond of sweets; and we 
may often find a score of red or black ants feasting on 
a fallen pear or peach, if soft and ripe, provided there 
is a crack in the rind. But they frequently seek to 
satisfy their liking for sweet things in a more inter- 
esting way. There is a remarkable little insect 
called the Aphis or plant-louse, in size about that of 
a large pin head, and usually of a greenish or black 
color, often to be seen on the leaves of peach and 
plum trees and many garden plants. These little 
creatures have the power of forming within their 
bodies a sweet fluid called honey-dew, and of this 
the ants are extremely fond. Toward the plant- 
lice they show the greatest respect, and the kindest 
of treatment, often carrying them off bodily to their 
nests, and there tending them with all the solicitous 
care of a faithful herder watching his cattle. The 
plant-lice have been called the ant's milch cows; and 
these they keep in little pens or stables within their 
nests, feeding and fattening them, and frequently 
taking them out to pasture when the day is fine, and 
returning them to their stalls at proper time. The 
ants greedily devour the honey-dew as fast as pro- 
duced; and frequently excite the flow of the juice by 
stroking the aphides with their antennas, as a milker 
presses the teats of the cow. 

ABOUT GRASSHOPPERS AND LOCUSTS. 

Grasshoppers and Locusts have many peculiarities 
by which they are distinguished from other insects. 
They do not pass through the complete changes 
already spoken of, as common to insects generally, 



ANTS, GRASSHOPPERS, BUTTERFLIES. HI 

appearing first as larvae, then as pupae, and finally 
as imagos or perfect insects. 

As soon as hatched from the eggs, they exhibit a 
ravenous appetite, and seem to retain it throughout 
their lives. Ordinarily, we make little or no distinc- 
tion in speaking of grasshoppers or locusts; but, for 
the sake of precision, it should be known that the 
insects we usually call grasshoppers, are, according to 
the classification of entomologists, in reality, locusts. 
The pretty little katy-did. with its delicate wings, 
its pale green color, and its monotonous sound — from 
which it gets its name — is a species of the true grass- 
hopper. It is thought that the male katy-did, pro- 
duces the characteristic sound, by rubbing together 
a couple of stiff membranes, like drum -heads, situ- 
ated at the base of the wings. 

Locusts have larger bodies, shorter antenna}, and 
much smaller limbs than grasshoppers. As is known 
to us through the sad and painful experiences of our 
early settlers in these parts, locusts prove a most 
distressing scourge when present in great numbers. 
They swarm at times so thick as to partially obscure 
the sun's light in their flight. The land was "as the 
Garden of Eden before them, and behind them as a 
desolate wilderness." But terrible as their visitation 
has proved itself in these mountain vales, they have 
been miraculously removed through [the prayers of 
the people and the mercy of a kind Protector 

BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS. 

These may be called the aristocrats of the insect- 
world; with their delicate wings painted as if by fairy 



112 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

fingers in heavenly tints, and their dainty tastes, 
they offer truly a strange contrast with the worm- 
like caterpillars from which they sprang. They are 
usually called Scale- ivinged Insects, from the feathery 
scales that form the gaily colored covering of their 
wings. These brilliant scales are easily rubbed off if 
the insect be at all roughly handled; and a little of 
this dust looked at through a powerful microscope 
shows itself to be made up of many little plates, 
each as distinct and perfect as the coarse, heavy 
cales on the body of a fish. Each is shaped some- 
what like a blunt-tipped leaf, with a little stalk by 
which it is inserted into the membranous frame- 
work of the wing. They are so placed as to overlap 
and by their symmetrical and truly artistic arrange- 
ment to produce the wondrously beautiful effects of 
color — too gorgeous in fact to admit of an adequate 
description; but why should such be attempted in 
words when the living wonder in all its glorious 
beautjr can be observed by every one who has such a 
desire. Upon the butterfly's wing the brightest hues of 
nature seem to be assembled; there we behold the 
flashing light of the diamond together with the 
brilliancy of the sapphire the depth of the emerald, 
and the lustre of burnished gold. 

Let us glance now for a moment at the peculiar 
form of the insect's head. The antennae are long 
and club-shaped in the case of the butterfly, and 
generally of a featherly form in the moth. On the 
under side of the head of a butterfly is seen a long 
slender trunk, usually coiled up as a rope when not 



ANTS, GRASSHOPPERS, BUTTER ^LIES. 113 

in use- This is a tube, which can be made to operate 
as a perfect little suction pump and pipe. By this 
ingeDious mechanism the insect readily pumps up 
the juicy sweets from the flower cups which it honors 
by its visits. 

Butterflies feed and fly in the day-time and rest at 
night, but most moths are night- fliers. Many 
moths are of great use to man, by furnishing a 
kind of silk in their cocoons. This is especially 
true of the silk worm, which spins a large oval 
cocoon in which it rests during its sleep as a pupa. 
The silk is in fact a hardened kind of glue or gum, 




Fig. 19.— Tent Caterpillar Moth, showing the eggs, larva, 

and imago. 

which the insect secretes in a cavity near the head; 
and the cocoon consists of a single continuous 
thread. In the processes of preparing this silk for 



114 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

use, the pupae within the cocoons are killed by heat 
or suffocation, else they would cut their way through 
the silken house and thus destroy the continuity of 
the thread. The silk is then unwound, reeled and 
spun. 

Fig. 19 shows the "Tent Caterpillar Moth," which 
has several times destroyed the fruit crops in 
different parts of Utah. The eggs are deposited 
as a collar around some small twig. The caterpillar is 
a pretty creature in spite of its destructive nature, 
ornamented with brilliant tufts of colored bristles. 
The name tent caterpillar is given to these insects 
from the silken net which they spin upon the tree, 
and which serves as a temporary house or tent. 




CHAPTER XXII. 

FLIES AND BEETLES. 

HOUSE-FLIES, mosquitoes, and all their kindred 
^ are characterized by having but two wings 
instead of four, the latter being the usual 
number with insects. In place of the hind 
wings, they have a pair of thread-like appendages 
with knobs at the extremities called balancers. 

The ordinary house-fly is well worth our attentive 
study. Watch it while it is quietly feeding, you 
see it thrust out apparently from the head a short 
club-shaped organ, usually of a brown color, and 
commonly called the tongue, but more properly 



FLIES AND BEETLES. 115 

the trunk ^ or proboscis, for the appendage serves 
many purposes foreign to the ordinary uses of a 
tongue. It is in fact a very delicate though perfect 
pump, by means of which liquids may be drawn 
into the fly's mouth. A piece of dry sugar or 
any such solid substance must first be moistened 
by a fluid from the fly's mouth, so as to form a 
syrup which is then drawn through the trunk into the 
mouth. Each tiny foot of the fly has a sole con- 
sisting of a couple of expanded plates or discs, acting 
like suckers. By pressing these little discs firmly 
against any smooth surface, the fly is enabled to 
hold itself attached, though hanging back down- 
ward. The flaps are lifted and the foot loosened by 
means of a set of little hooks with which each foot is 
provided. 

Mosquitoes are on quite intimate terms of acquaint- 
ance with most of us, and need no introduction. In 
the early part of their existence, they live in the 
water and are known among the boys as wigglers, or 
wiggle-tails. They are extremely active in all their 
movements, offering a strong contrast to the slow- 
moving caterpillars and maggots, which are the lar- 
va? of some other insects. Swarms of wigglers ma3^ 
be seen frequently, during the warm weather in 
stagnant pools, each hanging head downward in the 
water, the posterior part of the body being kept at 
the surface. A small breathing tube is attached 
near the extremity of the body. 

The appearance of the larval mosquito, also the 
pupa, the imago just escaping from the pupa- case, 



116 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



and the perfect insects, male and female are shown 
enlarged in figure 20. 




Fig. 20. — The Mosquito — male, female; imago, pupa 
and larva. 

The activity of the wiggler is not lost even when the 
mosquito reaches its adult age. The lances with which 
the little creature bores the skin of its victim are 
very sharp, and when not in use the3 T are kept care- 
fully protected within a double sheath or covering. 

We are very apt to think of mosquitoes as if they 
were worthless pests, calculated only to cause annoy- 
ance and pain to man and beast. Such an extreme 
judgment is in a degree unjust. Earnest students of 



FLIES AND BEETLES. 117 

nature have not yet been able to declare any created 
thing positively worthless : the Creator has a purpose in 
all his works; and even flies and mosquitoes are of cer- 
tain benefit to the rest of the animal world, and to 
man who claims superiority over all. Flies devour 
vast quantities of decaying matter about our houses 
and premises, which, if left unconsumed, would 
prove a most fertile soil for disease germs; and mos- 
quitoes do similar work in the marshes and swamps, 
which form their homes. They are found in great- 
est numbers during the heated season, when their 
services are most needed. They certainly do not 
seem to have been created as ministers to man's 
present comfort; but they do him good nevertheless, 
and that too in spite of his enmity and disgust for 
them. 

Dragon Flies or Darning Needles, as some are 
used to call them, have very large wings of a beauti- 
ful gauzy character, looking finer than the finest 
muslin. They possess very long bodies, and large 
lustrous eyes, and cannot fail to attract one's notice 
by their swift and graceful flight. Far from being 
harmful, as many suppose them, they are incapable 
of doing hurt to anything larger than a mosquito or 
a gnat, but upon the hosts of these troublesome little 
creatures they wage an incessant warfare. They are 
indeed the hawks of the insect world; and whenever 
we see them darting about over pools of water or 
across the meadow lands, we may know that a whole- 
sale destruction is going on among the smaller flies 
hovering in those places. 



118 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Beetles are frequently called sheath-winged in- 
sects from the fact that the first pair of wings 
are hard and horny, forming an effectual sheath 
for the more delicate wings beneath. Only the 
hind wings are used for flight, and when not in 
use these are safely packed away beneath the cases. 
Watch a beetle just alighted from its flight; see 
how skillfully it folds and lays aside its lace-like 
wings by the help of its hind legs. The known 
varieties of beetles are said to exceed thirty thousand 
and these differ widely in size. There is the delicate 
little Half-winged Beetle, smaller than a millet seed, 
which flies mostly at night, and occasionally makes 
its presence uncomfortably felt by getting inside our 
eye-lids. There is also the gaudily-dressed Lady- 
bird Beetle, so common about our gardens and flower 
plats, which should be carefully protected for the 
good it works by destroying such vast numbers of 
plant lice. Then we meet frequently with the busy 
little Tiger Beetle and a great many forms of Water 
Beetles. 

A very remarkable beetle is shown in figure 21. 
It is called the Stag Beetle, or stag-horn beetle, 
from the stout branched projections upon its head, 
resembling, somewhat, the antlers of a deer. It 
flies mostly at night, and is often attracted by the 
light into our houses, where it usually is an innocent 
cause of much alarm among the frightened inmates. 
The stag-beetle, however, is harmless; though, ir 
picked up and handled roughly, it may resent such 
treatment by a sharp pinch from its powerful jaws. 



FLIES AND BEETLES. 



119 




Figure 21. — Stag-horn Beetle. 

The Grave-diggers are remarkable little beetles, 
almost sure to be found near any small animal carcass 
left upon the ground. They usually travel in pairs, 
and seem to discover the existence of their prey 
from very great distances. Several roving couples 
soon congregate about the body of a mouse or a 
small bird; and by shoving away the earth around and 
beneath the same, soon lower it below the surface. 
The females then deposit their eggs in the flesh — 
where the maggots or larvae will be sure of finding 
abundant food. By performing such offices for the 
unburied dead, they not alone provide suitable places 
for the growth of their offspring, but, in addition, 
benefit us all by safely removing from the surface of 



120 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the ground decaying and offensive matters, and also 
do much in fertilizing the soil. Thus the beetle, 
by serving itself does good to all. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

SPIDERS. 

„ jpROM what has already been said we are fairly 
k^S acquainted with the essential characteris- 
¥^2> tics of true insects. Now, let us catch and 

V5 examine some common spider. We would 
better select for our study, a fairly small kind; the 
bite of nearly all is severe, and of many, poisonous. 
But we do not need to handle the specimen, so as to 
be bitten at all. Our spider has eight legs — insects 
have but six; its body is naturally divisible into two 
parts, the front being head and chest, and the hind 
part the abdomen; while, in insects, three divisions 
are noticeable; the head, chest, and abdomen being 
each distinct. The spiders are devoid of wings, and 
do not pass through the changes of life, characteristic 
of insects. In consequence of such facts, spiders are 
usually considered apart from the true insects. 

Most spiders have, connected with the abdomen, a 
reservoir of sticky fluid, which hardens in the air; 
and from this, the web is spun. The microscope 
shows each delicate thread of the spider's web to be 
composed of four thousand smaller ones; and each 
of these comes from a separate opening in the 
spider's spinneret. 



SPIDERS. 121 

These threads are so fine, that Leowenhoeck, 
calculated that it would require four millions of 
them to make a thread as large as a human hair. 
The holes in the spider's body, through which these 
threads issue, are so small that, according to Reamur, 
a thousand of them occupy a space no larger than 
the point of a pin. The four thousand strands, of 
which each thread of the web consists, are united at 
some little distance from the spinnerets, so that each 
is dry before it is joined to the rest. By this arrange- 
ment, greater strength is secured; for it is a well- 
known fact, that a rope or cable, made of many 
fine cords, is much stronger than one of the same 
size consisting of a single cord. 

Many spiders construct large and beautiful webs, 
which are spread out in various forms to serve as nets 
for the capture of insects. 

Let us seek a freshly made web, and watch the 
spider as it captures its prey. As soon as a fly or 
other insect becomes ensnared in the meshes of the 
web, the spider rushes from its place of concealment 
near the centre of its silken net, and pounces upon 
the body of its victim, holding it firmly by means of 
its own powerful jaws; or if the captive be of large 
size, the spider spins additional cords about its body, 
so as to keep it as secure as possible during its death 
struggles, and avoid all unnecessary injury to the 
web. The body of the victim is sucked dry of its 
juices at leisure, and the dessicated remains are dis- 
carded. 

Not all spiders spin webs however; some called 



122 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Mason Spiders make for themselves nests of clay in 
the earth, lining the cavity with a stout silky tissue, 
and fitting to the opening on the surface of the 
ground, a door which works on a durable hinge. 
When hiding within, the spider keeps the door 
closed against intrusion by holding firmly to the 
under side; and when the ingenious little builder 
leaves its nest, it is careful to close the opening in 
as perfect a manner as possible, so that it is almost 
invisible. These interesting little creatures are not 
common in these parts: occasionally specimens are 
met with in the warm south, and in California. 

The Tarantula is a hairy spider, common in all 
parts of our Territory, sometimes attaining a spread 
of feet of over three inches, and capable of inflicting 
a dangerous bite. Several enormous spiders abound 
in the tropical regions, characterized by powers of 
quick movement and surprising strength. They 
capture and kill the largest insects, and even small 
lizards and birds. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

WORMS AND SNAILS. 

SJSi^ORMS and snails! Not a very elegant title 

JSsStaia for a chapter, you say! Well, no; but an 

H©^ interesting and instructive subject neverthe- 

G§S less. Let us capture an ordinary Earth 

Worm or Angle Worm; we can find them in numbers 



WORMS AND SNAILS. 123 

thrown up by the spade or plow in rich soil. Its 
body seems to consist of a number of rings or 
segments, each of which is provided on the under 
surface with several little bristles or short hairs, 
tolerably stout, and all directed backward. By 
rubbing a worm lightly between the fingers, from 
head to tail, the body seems perfectly smooth, but 
on attempting to stroke the animal in an opposite 
direction the bristles can be distinctly felt. By the 
aid of these little appendages the worm holds itself 
steady while boring its way through the soil, 
and resists any effort made to draw it forcibly 
from its burrow. Earth worms prove of very great 
benefit to the farmer by boring and loosening the 
ground below the reach of the plow. They eat by 
swallowing large quantities of soil, and after the 
vegetable matter has been extracted within their 
bodies, the rest is rejected in the form of worm-casts, 
which are composed of the richest and most produc- 
tive mould. In some parts, especially in moist 
climates, these little creatures are found in very 
great numbers, and the labor that they accomplish 
in rejuvenating the soil is surprising. These common 
worms upon which we are inclined to bestow hardly 
a single serious thought, will often convert a barren 
patch into a most productive field. 

We may often observe a number of dark colored 
worms crawling on the bottoms of our ditches 
and ponds, especially in low marshy places. These 
are called Leeches; but the boys have given them the 
title of blood-suckers, and with very good reason too, 



124 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

as we shall see. Let us pick one of them from the 
water and look at it closely. We see on each end of 
the body a flat disc by means of which it can fasten 
itself firmly to any solid object, such as an animal's 
body. In its mouth we observe three sharp teeth; 
which very readily bore through the skin of its 
victims. The most active leeches are met with in 
the running streams of southern Europe, and one 
common variety is called the medicinal leech from 
having been once so extensively used by the surgeon 
in drawing blood from the body of his patient, for 
the purpose of allaying fever or local inflammation. 
When applied to the affected part, the leech soon 
perforates the skin with its lance-like teeth and draws 
the blood with vigor.* 

But there are worms much smaller than these. 
The little Hair-worm, or as we erroneously name it 
the hair-snake, is a common inhabitant of our 
ditches. Ordinarily it grows from four to six inches 
long, and in thickness about equal to a hair. The 
notion has gained a foundation in the minds of many 
that this little creature is a transformed horse-hair. 
The author has talked with many people who feel 
absolutely certain that such an unnatural change as 
the resurrection of a lifeless hair into a living worm 

* This professional use of leeches is now very greatly 
restricted; but a few years ago they were as common as 
the lance is at present in medical practice. In 1846 it is 
said that between twenty and thirty millions were used 
in France, and in 1863 there were used in London alone 
over seven millions, and in the hospitals of Paris from five 
to six millions. 



WORMS AND SNAILS. 125 

is a matter of every day occurrence. A careless 
experiment is always likely to suggest erroneous 
conclusions. If you throw a handful of horse-hair 
into a pool of standing water, very likely in a few 
days several hair-worms will be found wriggling 
among the hairs, but the little wrigglers have probably 
come there from other portions of the pool. Such is 
an improper way to make a trial. Now, count 
several hairs, place them in water in a safe place, 
then if you are lucky enough to find a hair-worm 
among them, count again; and all the hairs will be 
there. No such transformation can be effected; a 
hair is a hair and a worm is a worm, and nothing 
short of a Creator's power can form one from the 
elements [of the other. The hair-worm during its 
early life is a parasite in the intestines of many 
insects and small aquatic animals. Lying coiled up 
within the body of its host it attains a great length; 
but at maturity it escapes and deposits its eggs in 
the water. 

There are many parasitic worms, that is to say 
worms that live in the bodies of other animals. One 
of these called the Trichina is found in diseased 
flesh, especially that of hogs. 

Figure 22 shows the appearance of a piece of in- 
fected pork, as seen under the microscope, highly 
magnified; 1 shows the worms migrating in the 
fibres of the muscles; 2 represents a single worm 
encysted in the flesh, and 3 is a picture of a worm 
very much enlarged. 

The trichinae usually lie coiled within a little cell, 



126 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



in the muscles of the animal. If such meat be eaten, 
these dreaded parasites live and multiply within the 



m* 





1.1 1 J . 

Fig. 22. — Trichina in flesh of Swine, 
body, and terrible disease, or even death frequently 
follows. * 

SNAILS - AND THEIR KINDRED. 

Now let us catch a common snail, and see what it 
has to tell us. The most striking peculiarity is its 
colored shell, in which the soft body is enclosed. 
This snail is a member of a very large family of 
animals, called Mollusks, from a word, meaning 
"soft." It can withdraw its body completely within 
the shell when alarmed, and even close the entrance, 

* Only meat from clean and healthy animals should be 
eaten; swine's flesh, never: and all meat should be thor- 
oughly cooked, so as to kill the parasites if they are 
present. Living worms are not good for food. Meat need 
not be burned or scorched, but it should be cooked 
through. Meat "done rare," may be a favorite article of 
diet with some, but it is always liable to contain living 
germs of troublesome parasites. 



SNAILS AND THEIR KINDRED. 127 

by means of a horny plate or disc. When extended, 
however, the head and main part of the body are 
outside the shell; and a couple of little pillars are 
seen affixed to the head, on the top of which the 
eyes are placed. Kather strange, isn't it, that the 
little creature should carry its eyes on a couple of 
poles, so that it can see farther? 

Some mollusks live on land in damp parts, but by 
far the greater number inhabit the water, either 
fresh or salt. The beautiful sea shells with such an 
infinite variety of color and form, and an indescribable 
lustre are examples of the houses in which these 
humble creatures dwell. The highly- prized "mother 
of pearl" is obtained from the shells of such mollusks; 
and the beautiful pearls so much used in jewelry 
are derived from a species of oyster. 

Returning to our snail once more, we seethat its 
shell consists really of one continuous piece; the 
snail and all such mollusks are called univalves in 
consequence, while the oyster, clam and the like, the 
shells of which consist of two parts, are called 
bivalves. 

Some mollusks are destitute of any shell, such is 
the case for instance with the common garden slug, 
a thick fleshy mollusk, usually covered with slime 
and looking much like a snail that has escaped from 
its shell. On the head are four little pillars, the 
longer pair bearing the eyes. The head can be drawn 
in somewhat as the finger of a glove is inverted. 



128 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



SOME TINY CREATURES. 



RESIDE the many forms of animal life at which 

J5 we have already glanced, there are countless 

^g)c others too small to be perceived by the un- 

^> aided vision. A drop of stagnant water by the 

magic power of the microscope is seen to be literally 

a world of wonders: it is densely inhabited by crea- 




Fig. 23. — Chalk from Gravesend. 

tures, whose smallness alone would make them 
remarkable, and yet as wonderfully formed and as 



SOME TINY CREATURES. 129 

admirably fitted for their prescribed course of life, as 
is the kingly lion or the eagle in its sphere. 

Figure 23 is a picture made from a drawing by 
the celebrated microscopist, Ehrenberg, of a bit of 
chalk dust seen under the microscope. Chalk then 
is seen to be made up of the shells and calcareous 
skeletons of these minute animals. 

Who of us has an imagination sufficiently strong 
to picture the myriads of separate shells in a moun- 
tain of chalk? Much of the beautiful marble and 
the solid limestone of our hills consisted once of 
such hard shells and the stony skeletons of similar 
minute animals. 

Many of these smallest 
f forms are so simple in 
structure that they seem 
to consist only of a little 
fleshy sac, filled with 

Fig. 24.-The Amoeba. flu ' 
Two pictures are given m figure 24 of a form fre- 
quently found in the water of our ponds and streams, 
invisible to the unaided eye, and looking, when mag- 
nified, like a very small patch of jelly, with no regu- 
lar shape. It is called the Amoeba; and though so 
simple, it lives and moves in its allotted way with 
perfect order. Some people have argued that from 
such minute and simple structures as this one, all 
the higher animals have been developed in course of 
time through a process of growth or evolution. Such 
an idea is without the least foundation in fact or 

observation; no man has yet succeeded in producing 
io 




130 FIRST BOOK OF L NATURE. 

from the amoeba any other kind of animal than itself. 
Each animal produces others of its own kind, and its 
own kind only. This seems to be a law of creation. 
An animal may grow and develop till it becomes 
perfect in its own sphere ; but one cannot transform 
itself into others. The Creator has placed upon His 
earth a vast variety of living forms, small and large, 
simple and complicated, some to live in the air, 
others in the water, and still others on the ground, 
yet each with a special purpose to meet, and a par- 
ticular place to fill in the great household of Nature; 
and every one is contented to live and to move within 
the sphere for which its Maker intended it. 




Part II. 

The Vegetable or Riant Kingdom, 



"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they 
toil not, neither do they spin, and yet, I say unto you that 
even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of 
these."— Matthew vi, 28, 29. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

PLANTS, AND HOW THEY GROW. 

gtftN THIS great kingdom of Nature, we may find 
^JJ a variety and diversity even greater than 

fthat already seen to exist among animals. 
Like animals, plants also live; they need food 
and drink, which they absorb through their roots, and 
they breathe through their leaves. Their nourish- 
ment is derived from the soil, water and air; and in 
turn they furnish food for animals. It appears to 
be a universal law that plants should form the food 
of animals. Carnivorous or flesh-eating animals 
feed upon the bodies of other animals, which in 
their turn lived upon plants; and thus even they 
are indirectly sustained by the great vegetable king- 
dom. The food of all animals is produced by plants. 



132 FIRST BOOK OF NATUFE. 

As a consequence of this alone the study of plants 
should be of interest to us. Surely Solomon was 
wise in his declaration: "The profit of the earth is 
for all: the king himself is served by the field." 

Plants exist under most extreme circumstances in 
different parts of the globe. Wherever man has gone 
on the surface of the earth, he has found vegetation 
of some kind, even far beyond the limits of animal 

life. 

Among natural objects, there are none others that 
do so much as plants to change and diversify the 
general aspect of the landscape. Without flowers 
and trees this would be to most of us a dreary world 
indeed. But these fixed residents of the soil do 
more for man than merely ministering to his sense of 
beauty, they offer him shade and shelter from the 
heat of summer, and bring him sweet perfumes, and 
untold treasures for food and useful service. From 
plants come the almost endless variety of fruits, 
which furnish us with so many of the necessaries and 
luxuries of diet: sugar and spices, the frankincense 
and the myrrh; tonic herbs and wholesome medicines, 
resins and waxes; starch and oil, cotton, linen and 
paper, gums, rubber, cork and dyes, beside the many 
varieties of truly beautiful woods, for his buildings, 
furniture and fuel — woods, hard and soft, coarse and 
fi ne — f almost every conceivable shade and condition, 
and of universal adaptability to the needs of man. 

Let us change our attention from the general 
aspect of vegetation to the more intimate examina- 
tion of a single plant. We may select a young fruit 



PLANTS, AND HOW THEY GROW. 133 

tree, for example. We perceive that it consists of 
three distinct and separate parts. There is the root, 
deeply inserted in the soil, and firmly holding the 
growing tree in position; next, the stem rising above 
the ground and oftentimes to a great height, and bear- 
ing branches from which grow the leaves. It is through 
these organs, root, stem and leaves, that the ordinary 
processes of vegetation are performed, and hence 
they are frequently termed the vegetative organs of 
the plant: contrasting with the reproductive organs, 
which comprise the flower, fruit and seed. 

THE ROOT. 

The roots of all plants show a natural tendency 
to grow downward. They are usually colorless, 
though occasionally of a reddish or brown tint, but 
never green. Suppose we now continue our exam- 
ination of the young fruit tree already selected, by 
digging around it and removing the soil from its 
roots. Without doubt, we will find the main roots 
divided into many branches, as we follow them in 
their winding courses through the ground, and these 
branches again divide, to form still smaller ones, and 
so on, till the final divisions are so small, that they 
are to be seen only by means of the microscope. 
The ordinary branches of the root are called rootlets, 
and the finest divisions are termed root-hairs. 

Of what use are these hair-like outgrowths? To 
obtain an answer to this question let us transfer our 
attention from the young fruit tree already examined 
to some smaller plant; an ordinary "weed" will do. 
If we pull it from the ground carefully, but little or 



134 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

no injury will befall the roots; a gentle shake will 
remove the bulk of soil which clung to the roots as we 
pulled the plant and the general form and structure 
of the underground parts will be easy to follow. There 
is the main root, connecting with the stem at the 
surface of the ground, and giving rise to numerous 
rootlets. A careful scrutiny of the rootlets by the 
help of a pocket glass will show the root -hairs in 
great numbers; and it is these little structures that 
entangle and hold the soil so firmly. The roots 
striking into the soil and branching in so many 
different directions give the plant a firm support in 
the earth, insuring it against the danger of being 
torn from its established home by any ordinary 
force. And it may be noticed that the plants hav- 
ing the longest main roots and the greatest number 
of branches are the firmest in position. Try to pull 
from the ground a thriving lucern or clover plant, 
and see if you have cause to doubt the statement. 

We may illustrate in a very pretty and instructive 
way the growth of roots, and at the same time observe 
the germination or sprouting of seeds, by performing 
the following simple experiment: Take a piece of 
muslin, — cheese cloth will be best, but a double 
thickness of mosquito netting will answer; tie it over 
the top of an ordinary tumbler, and fill the glass 
with water. Press the muslin or netting lower in the 
middle, so that it is kept moist, but not flooded; 
then sprinkle over it a pinch of seed of any small 
garden vegetable — the common garden cress seed 
will answer admirably. Set the glass aside for a day 



PLANT ROOTS. 135 

or two, carefully supplying more water to replace 
that lost by evaporation, so as to keep the seeds con- 
stantly damp. In a few days the seeds begin to 
sprout; each sends a tiny white root between the 
fibres of the netting into the water below and at the 
same time small leaves appear above. It would be 
well to set the glass near a window, so that it may 
have plenty of light; and if it be put in direct sun- 
light for a short time each day, it will be all the 
better, provided that the roots be kept below the 
water. The roots will spread within the glass till 
they appear to fill it, and a luxuriant crop of cress 
flourishes above. The writer frequently keeps several 
vessels of cress growing in this manner during the 
winter, and raises enough of this pungent salad for 
table use. And farther, a glass holding a growing 
crop of cress is no less ornamental than useful, and 
it is certainly as instructive as could be wished. 




CHAPTER XXVII. 

PLANT ROOTS. 

|ITH a powerful magnifying glass the tiny root 
hairs, already spoken of, appear to be perfect 

W tubes, through which the moisture of the 
soil is absorbed and conveyed to the main 
parts of the plant. In this interesting way the plant 
derives its food and drink — by absorbing the same 
through the tubular hairs covering the rootlets, 
thence passing it to the larger branches, and finally 



136 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

through the main root, and the vessels of the stem 
to the most distant twigs. 

We are usually not aware of the great force exhib- 
ited by the plant in absorbing water from the ground 
and distributing the same throughout its structure. 
Follow this simple experiment, first performed by 
Dr. Hales over a hundred and fifty years ago, and 
since that time repeated by many others. The 
stem of a young grape vine in vigorous growth was 
cut off a few inches above the surface of the ground 
and a small pressure guage, similar to the kind used 
on steam-boilers and the like, was attached. The 
moisture absorbed by the roots and passed upward 
through the stem, escaped where the stem was cut, 
and exerted its force on the liquid within the pres- 
sure guage; the pressure thus produced was sufficient 
to force water to a height of over thirty- six feet in 
the long arm of the guage tube. 

Since all the material upon which plants feed has 
to be absorbed in this way, it follows of necessity 
that all such food must be in a state of solution, or 
the plant cannot absorb and use it. The soil may 
be rich in all the solid matters needed by the plant; 
but such cannot be absorbed unless water be supplied. 
The rain falling upon the soil, as well as the irrigat- 
ing stream flowing over the surface, soaks into the 
ground, and in so doing dissolves all that is soluble; 
and when this water passes through the root hairs 
into the plant, it carries with it the materials in 
solution. During the growing season, when plants 
require the largest amounts of food material, the 



PLANT ROOTS. 137 

roots are most active absorbents; but as soon as the 
leaves fall and the plant prepares for its winter sleep, 
the roots rest from their labors, most of the tiny 
root-hairs shrivel and die, the soft parts become hard, 
and the whole activity of the plant is suspended till 
awakened once more to growth by the return of 
spring warmth and moisture. During this period of 
rest, the plant may be removed from the soil and reset, 
with less danger of injury, as there are fewer active 
rootlets to be broken and checked in their work. 

The quantity of roots attached to an ordinary 
plant is far greater than is ordinarily supposed. By 
digging away the soil some distance from plants 
selected for examination, and then washing the rest 
till the roots are laid bare and clean, the roots of 
beans, peas and rye have been found to form a 
tangled mat beneath the ground to a depth of about 
four feet from the surface. Roots of winter wheat 
have been found seven feet in the soil in less than 
seven weeks from the time of sowing. 

Complete measurements of the roots of several 
plants with all their branches have been made for 
the purpose of determining the total extent of root 
material. A barley plant was found in this way to 
possess one hundred and twenty-eight feet of roots. 
Remembering that the small rootlets are thickly 
covered with root hairs as before described, the ab- 
sorbing surface of the plant is seen at once to be very 
great. And this explains also why the plants that 
send their roots deepest into the soil are able to 
endure the vicissitudes of dry weather with fewest ill 



138 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

consequences, — the deep branches of their roots 
reach the moist subsoil below, though the ground 
near the surface may be parched and dry. 

Through the uncounted multitudes of root hairs 
with their eager thirst for moisture, the plant is fed. 
These are its mouths, and their capacity is great. 
In this perfect manner has the Creator provided for 
the welfare of the herb and tree; they too are sub- 
jects of His care. He made them, and in their 
welfare -He takes delight. 

Another great use served by the roots of plants, 
is that of preserving and storing for future use the 
materials taken from the soil. This is especially 
true of plants that require two seasons of growth in 
which to fully develop and produce their flowers and 
seed; such as the carrot, turnip, beet and parsnip. 
The roots of these plants are extremely large as 
compared with the other parts and very fleshy at 
the end of the first year's growth. If, however, we 
carefully watch such a root during the second season, 
while the plant is blossoming and maturing its seeds, 
we will doubtless see that the root withers and 
shrinks as if being gradually exhausted of its store. 

By removing these roots from the soil at the close 
of the first season, the farmer secures the rich sup- 
plies of food material for the support of himself and 
his animals; but if left to follow its natural course of 
life uninterruptedly, the plant employs that food to 
nourish its flowers and fruit. All plants that re- 
quire two growing seasons in which to perfect their 
growth are called biennial plants; such are the 



PLANT ROOTS. 139 

carrot, beet, parsnip and turnip already named, and 
to this list the cabbage may be added. Distin- 
guished from all such are the annual plants, which 
ripen their seed during the first year, and then die 
roots and all, re-appearing only through the growth 
of the seed. Such is the nature of wheat and barley, 
and in fact all our grains, beans and peas and all 
crops that need to be re-sown each year. Other 
plants are said to be perennial in nature; they live 
several years before they bear flowers and seed, and 
after that continue to bear for a great many seasons 
in succession or at intervals. This we know to be 
the nature of ordinary trees and shrubs, such as the 
apple, peach, oak and the rest. In all of this class 
the leaves, flowers and root-hairs die with the sum- 
mer; but the roots and stem retain their vitality, and 
annually renew the beauties of flower and richness 
of fruit with the return of the sun in its power. 

These fleshy roots, forming, as we have seen, rich 
stores of plant food appear in a number of shapes. 
They may be conical as is the case with the carrot 
and parnsip, or more globular like the turnip, or 
spindle-shaped — that is long and tapering, and thick- 
est near the middle as are beets and long radishes. 

We are apt to speak of some underground growths 
as roots whereas in reality they are not roots at all. 
A potato for instance, though growing beneath the 
surface, is a thickened part of the stem. True roots 
never produce buds; whereas a single potato tuber 
often shows many buds; these are the "eyes" seen 
upon its surface from which branches will rise and 



140 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

true roots will sprout if it be planted. The onion 
is another example of a plant stem being called 
a root, because of it happening to grow under 
ground. The large onion bulb is in reality but 
a swollen part of the stem, the true roots, being 
seen at the lower extremity in the form of a tuft. 
Underground stems of the rose-bush, raspberry and 
other shrubs greatly resemble roots in outward 
appearance; but their true nature may be unmistak- 
ably recognized by the buds upon their surfaces. 
From these buds, branches are sent upward, each of 
which may grow into a perfect stem, bearing branches 
smaller than itself and these support leaves, flowers 
and fruit. After having reached a fair size these 
underground branches may be safely cut off from the 
parent stem; the severed parts strike root for them- 
selves and become independent plants. Gardners 
frequently increase their stock of such plants in this 
way; the process is called "multiplying by the root" 
— really an incorrect term, because, as we have 
already seen, the growth is from stems below ground 
and not from roots at all. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

PLANT STEMS. 

^AKE a sharp knife and cut straight across, a 

&JM small branch or stem of a currant shrub, or 

^W other small, woody plant; and now, look care- 

X at the cut surface. Several distinct parts are 

clearly seen; there is a rather dark-colored bark or 



fa 



PLANT STEMS. 141 

skin on the outside; a light and hard part inside the 
bark, which we call the wood, and a very soft, central 
core, or pith. Jf such a stem be more closely looked 
at, by the assistance of a microscope, a truly 
beautiful arrangement of parts, of complicated 
structure, is at once apparent. The woody part of 
the stem, for instance, looks like a bundle of vessels 
or tubes, which, during the growing season, are filled 
with the sap of the plant, as it flows from the roots 
to the farthest branches and twigs. Not all of these 
tubes, however, are of exactly the same shape and 
size; some appear plain and others beautifully marked 
and ornamented with rings and spiral lines, and 
orderly-arranged dots; all such markings seeming to 
be really thickenings on the walls of the tubes, im- 
parting thereto strength and stability. 

Thus, even in the structure of these smallest of 
small things, a principle of order and system, has 
been followed. Not an ornamental dot is found, 
without a purpose and a use. 

The outside covering of the stem, if hard and 
coarse, we are apt to call bark, but if softer and 
finer in structure, we speak of it as the rind. 
To this bark or rind also there are an outer and an 
inner portion; the outer being in most cases hard, 
and in some scaly and apparently lifeless, while the 
inner part is of a fine fibrous nature. The bark of 
the birch tree is so fine and smooth that it is useful 
for wrapping and even for writing purposes in place of 
paper. People who visit the great birch forests of 
the Northern and Eastern States, frequently strip off 



142 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the smooth bark by the aid of their pocket knives, and 
use the same in writing letters to their distant friends. 
In former days, before paper was known, it was cus- 
tomary to write all kinds of books and records on the 
smooth inner bark of trees. In fact the Latin name 
for book, liber, is the name given by botanists to the 
inside layer of the bark of trees. The bark fibres of 
some plants are of great use to us in the manufac- 
ture of ropes and cordage. The well known linden 
tree derives its peculiar name from the fact of its 
bark being so valuable in making lines or ropes. 

Let us now examine, attentively, the end of a large 
tree or log that has been sawn squarely off. Here 
we notice that the hard part of the stem or wood 
proper, is marked by a series of rings, all of different 
sizes, arranged concentrically , that is around the same 
centre, the smallest, of course, being inside. These 
concentric rings indicate the different periods of 
growth through which the tree has passed. Some 
people believe that each ring indicates one year of 
the plant's development, and that the number of 
the rings expresses the age of the plant in years. 
This is not strictly true. In tropical lands, where 
there is no clear division of the seasons, no summer 
during which plants grow, and, no winter during 
which they rest, rings in the stems of plants, are still 
to be seen; and in our own parts, several rings are 
frequently produced during a single year. 

The soft, new wood found just below the bark is 
called sap wood; this is comparatively useless as tim- 
ber, and the lumber cutters strip it off from the 



PLANT STEMS. 



143 



trunks of their trees and discard it. The hard, solid 
wood within — that which we usually call wood, is 
much harder and more solid; it is called heart wood. 
This is the part of the tree so useful to the carpenter 
and the builder, and occurs in a great many different 
forms. In some plants it is white and soft, as in the 
pine, grayish in the locust, dark brown and very 
dense in the walnut tree, hard and dark-colored in 
mahogany, black and almost of stony hardness in the 
tropical ebony. 

In all of these woody plants, the stem increases in 
thickness through forming layers of new wood be- 
tween the bark and the old wood, the sap wood 
being the newest and youngest part of the stem. 
Such a method of growth must appear to us to be 
the most natural; it is almost impossible to imagine 
very extensive growth and increase in size occurring 
in the solid heart wood. Plants that grow in this 

way are called Exo- 
genous Plants or 
outside growers. 
The arrangement 
of parts in such 
plants is shown in 
Fig. 25.— Structure of an Exogenous figure 25; the layers 
Stem, of inner and outer 

bark, of wood and of pith are clearly illustrated. 

For comparison, let us now look at a stem of maize 
or sorghum cane, or one of the many kinds of rushes 
to be found so abundantly in marshy places. Here 
we find no such arrangement of parts as we discovered 




144 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



while examining the woody stem. Take a sharp 
knife and cut off the stem of one of these plants; it 
will be seen to consist mostly of a porous, spongy 
material inside a hard rind. There is no distinction 
of parts into sap-wood and heart-wood; such plants 
seem to increase in size uniformly throughout the 
whole stem, and hence are called Endogenous Plants 

or inside growers. Figure 26 
represents such a stem; the 
outer rind and the porous con- 
tents are clearly shown; the 
dark dots seen in the cross sec- 
tion and appearing as dark- 
colored streaks are the hard or 
woody parts of the stem. 

Nearly all the endogenous 
plants of these regions are small 
when compared with the larger 
trees of the exogenous class, but 
in warmer climates many of the 
largest trees belong to the end- 
ogenous kind. Such for in- 
stance are the palmetto trees of 

Fig. 26.-Structure of the Soutliem States and the 
an Endogenous Stem, larger palms of the torrid zone. 

The trunk or stem of these trees is of nearly the same 

thickness from the ground upward. Then again, the 

palm throws off no branches along the trunk, but 

bears at the top a wide-spreading bunch of stout thick 

leaves. In these stems, though large, there is no 

distinction into bark, wood and pith, and no con- 




PLANT STEMS. 145 

centric rings of growth are to be found. There are to 
be seen scattered throughout the whole thickness of 
the stem, hard black spots or streaks of woody tissue. 

The difference between these two great orders of 
plants, does not lie wholly in their stems; the leaves 
and the seeds of these two divisions differ materially 
from one another as we shall subsequently see. 

Let us now examine a stem of some smaller plant, 
for instance a straw of wheat or barley, or the 
vine from a pea or a bean. Cut this across in the 
same way, and note the difference between it and 
the others already examined. All of these smaller 
stems are hollow and therefore extremely light and 
yielding. Every mechanic knows that an iron tube 
is much stronger than a solid iron bar of the same 
weight; and the Master Workman who fashioned the 
grass stalk and the wheaten straw, employed that 
principle by which to give pliant strength to these 
lowly objects of His care. In consequence, the 
stalk of grain supports an ear of many times its own 
weight, and bends and bows before every breeze, but 
does not often break. 

Most branches resemble the stems from which they 
grow, in form and structure; they seem, in fact, to 
be divisions of the stem; but in the case of many 
plants, rather odd branches are produced. Look, for 
instance, at a growing grape vine, a Virginia creeper, 
a squash, or a cucumber vine; growing from the 
stem of each of these, are several small, slender 
branches, devoid of leaves and buds, and apparently 
not intended for the offices that branches ordinarily 



146 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

fill. These are called Tendrils, and are admirably 
devised to assist the plant in climbing or spreading 
over the ground as it grows. Observe, carefully, such 
a tendril, at intervals, for several days in succession. 
It grows comparatively straight, until it reaches 
some support near by, such as a post, or an adjacent 
stem; the point of the tendril then hooks around, 
and the slender branch twists itself into a spiral coil, 
like a cork-screw, thus drawing the growing plant 
closer and closer to the support. When such plants 
grow near a wall, or other flat object, around which, 
the tendril cannot twine, the end of each tendril 
flattens itself, forming a kind of sucker-like disc, 
which adheres closely and firmly to the neighboring 
surface, and thus supports the plant. Such a re- 
markable adaptation to circumstances as this, is not 
mere chance; it is a mark of infinite wisdom; the 
creeping plant and the twining vine speak forth in 
their very growth, the wisdom and care of their 
Maker. 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

LEAVES. 



I 



^EAUTY and usefulness are frequently associ- 
ated in Nature. The arrangement of the 
vegetable kingdom offers an illustration and a 
proof of this remark. The most attractive 
and strikingly beautiful parts of plants are as a rule, the 
most indispensable organs. Look for a moment upon 
the tree in the fulness of its summer foliage; if each 




LEAVES. 



147 



of the unnumbered host of leaves does but a trifle 
toward the general good of the plant, the result must 
be indeed stupendous. 

To learn something regarding the structure and 
use of leaves, let us pluck some from the tree and 
look at them with thoughtful care. A leaf from a 
fig tree is pictured in figure 27. There is to be 
noticed a stalk (p) by which the leaf was attached to 
the branch; this is called the petiole and the two 
small appendages (st) seen at the base are the stipules. 
The expanded portion of the leaf is called the blade 
(b). Running through this blade we see a number 
of* small lines of harder and denser material than the 
thinner and smoother parts of the leaf. These lines 

or veins branch again and 
again till they form a per- 
fect network of fibres over 
which the true fabric or 
membrane of the leaf is 
stretched. In the case of 
leaves belonging to the 
K endogenous plants, already 
described, the veins are 
nearly parallel with one 
another from base to tip, 
and in consequence, such 
leaves are said to be par- 
allel-veined, while the 
leaves from exogenous 
plants are net-veined. 




Fig. 27.— Leaf. 



Figure 27 is a good 'picture of a leaf from an 



148 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

exogenous plant. The frame or skeleton upon which 
the green tissue is stretched can be readily observed. 
If the thin membrane or skin from the under side 
of a leaf be carefully stripped off by means of a small 
pair of forceps or pliers, and then examined with the 
microscope, it would be found to be full of little 
holes which we call the stomata or breathing pores 
of the plant. The number of these present in com- 
mon leaves is indeed surprising; five thousand of 
them are found in a single square inch of the rhu- 
barb leaf; twelve thousand per square inch in the 
garden iris or blue-flag, thirty-six thousand per 
square inch in the leaf of the pink, and one hundred 
and sixty thousand per square inch in the hydrangea. 
Through these thousands of little pores the plant 
breathes, as perfectly as animals do by means of 
mouth, lungs and skin. We can very readily 
prove that plants do breathe by proceeding as follows. 
Secure a clean dry glass bottle having a large mouth 
— a common fruit-bottle will answer admirably; 
invert the bottle over any small growing plant, say a 
house plant in its flower pot; now watch the bottle 
carefully, and within a very short time the inside will 
be seen to be clouded from the deposition of vapor; 
and after a longer interval, so much moisture will be 
condensed that it gathers in drops and trickles down 
the sides of the bottle. A sunflower, standing three 
feet and a half high, was found by experiment to 
exhale between twenty and thirty ounces of water 
every twelve hours. When tested in a similar way, 
a cabbage breathed out between fifteen and twenty 



LEAVES. 149 

ounces of water in the same length of time. This 
would be equal to the amount of moisture exhaled in 
the breaths of half a dozen men. 

But even more surprising than this is the almost 
perfect manner by which the exhalation of moisture 
is controlled and varied. Around each of these 
tiny pores, is a thickened band which has the power 
of automatically opening and closing the little 
mouth, according to the amount of moisture present 
in the atmosphere. Thus, when the air is drier than 
usual, and there is danger that the plant would 
lose too much moisture, these little pores close by 
contraction of the rim or band around each, and so 
any undue evaporation is checked; but whenever the 
air is moist, the breathing pores are opened wide, 
and free transpiration is encouraged. 

The green color of leaves is an important feature. 
Most leaves are of this characteristic tint when in a 
state of vigorous growth, and they lose it wholly or 
in part when they become affected in any way to 
interfere with the proper discharge of their functions. 
Loss of green color in a leaf is indicative of a check 
of growth, usually resulting in the death of the leaf. 

In general shape, we find almost an endless diver- 
sity of leaves; some smooth and others rough on their 
surface, some toothed like a saw, others gently 
waved or deeply cut on their margins. Compare for 
instance a leaf from an apple or a pear tree with that 
of the common dandelion. Indeed, the name dan- 
delion is but a changed form of a French expression 
meaning "lion-toothed," having reference to the 



150 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

tooth-like, jagged edges of the leaves. Look now 
at a leaf from a peach tree; it consists of but a single 
blade growing from the stalk; then compare with it a 
locust leaf; — that is said to be compound — it con- 
sists of a number of separate blades all joined, how- 
ever, to a single stalk. We are liable to mistake 
such compound leaves, and think of each as really a 
small branch bearing several leaves; now let us 
examine more closely and discover, if we can, how to 
guard against such an error. We find at the bottom 
or base of each leaf stalk a tiny bud from which the 
leaf seems in reality to grow; but one such bud is 
found in a compound leaf, and that is situated at the 
junction of the main stalk with the branch. As an- 
other method of proving the true nature of compound 
leaves, notice that in the autumn, the whole leaf, 
or what appears to be the branch of leaves, falls 
from the tree entire; and such would not be the case 
if the so-called leaf were really a branch with leaves 
upon it, for branches do not fall as winter ap- 
proaches. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

SOME CURIOUS LEAVES. 

^fjjjgjHE general shapes and uses of leaves have been 



already pointed out; but Nature presents us 
with a great many variations from the com- 
mon condition, or, as we may say, adaptations 
to special purposes. In the case of peas and wild 



SOME CURIOUS LEAYES. 151 

vetches, for instance, the upper part of each leaf is 
prolonged so as to serve as a tendril, very similar in 
form and use to the tendrils already noticed on the 
grape vine and other plants, which, it will be re- 
membered are, in reality, modified branches. By the 
aid of these tendrils, these plants climb in a very 
perfect and well-adapted way. 

But, perhaps, of all curious developments of leaves, 
the strangest and most remarkable are shown in the 
various forms of Pitcher-plants, which are so named, 
from the peculiar jug-like shape of the leaf. In the 
Nepenthes — an East India variety of pitcher-plant, 
the blade of the leaf contracts into a tendril; but the 
end of the tendril expands again to form a very 
beautiful hollow pitcher, wonderfully regular and 
symmetrical in form, and usually from five to six 
inches in length. At the top of the pitcher is a lid, 
which exactly fits the opening, and works auto- 
matically upon an admirably-fitted hinge. Usually, 
the pitchers contain a considerable quantity of 
water — a half-pint in each, being a very ordinary 
amount. Following are the words of a traveler, 
Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, in reference to our subject. 
He is describing an ascent of Mount Ophir, and 
says: "The height was about two thousand eight 
hundred feet. We had been told that we should 
find water, * * * but we looked about for 
it in vain, as we were exceedingly thirsty. At last 
we turned to the pitcher-plants, but the pitchers were 
full of insects, and otherwise uninviting. On tasting 
it, however, we found it very palatable, though 



152 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

rather warm, and we all quenched our thirst from 
these natural jugs." 

Another variety of this interesting class is called 
by various names, such as side-saddle flower, hunts- 
man's horn, Sarracennia, etc. Its leaf is curved and 
the edges joined so as to form a slender cup, bulging 
near the middle and bearing at the top a hood-like 
expansion of the blade. 

The California pitcher-plant or Darlingtonia is 
found growing under favorable circumstances in 
various parts of the Western and South-western 
States, but principally in California. The pitcher 
here seems to have been produced by an expansion 
or flattening of the leaf stalk, the thin part of the 
leaf or the blade as we call it, appearing as an 
appendage or a hood. This is remarkable for the 
fact that the opening to the pitcher is beneath the 
curved or vaulted hood, and consequently the liquid 
contained therein cannot be attributed to rain or dew, 
but must have been secreted by the plant itself. 
Inside the pitcher at different heights are fringes of 
hairs, all directed downward. Many insects enter 
the hood and explore the recesses of the pitcher, 
though but very few of them escape to tell their 
fellows what they saw. It is easy for an insect to 
pass down the pitcher toward the bottom, but any 
attempt to return is frustrated by the hairs within, 
as they cannot be pushed upward, and so the insect 
is held a prisoner. Its death is a matter of short 
time only, and as its body decays within the cup, it 
furnishes without doubt a rich nourishment for the 



SOME CURIOUS LEAVES. 153 

plant. All pitcher plants partake somewhat of the 
nature of insect traps; their victims being most 
likely allured into the treacherous cups by the spark- 
ling liquid contained therein and a sweet exudation 
to be found on most of the leaves. 

But even more remarkable and strange in this 
respect is the so called Venus Fly Trap, a small 
though common plant in the bogs and marshes of the 
south, as far north as South Carolina. Each leaf of 
this truly wonderful growth is divided at its end, 
forming a pair of thick, somewhat fleshy lobes, so 
placed as to resemble in form a book with rounded 
corners held partly open. The surfaces of the lobes 
are covered with a set of stiff hairs or bristles, which 
are as sensitive as the whiskers of a cat. Whenever 
a small insect alights on one of the lobes, and brushes 
against the bristles, the two portions of the leaf fly 
together with the rapidity of a spring trap, usually 
enclosing the intruder as a prisoner. The lobes press 
closer and closer together till the little victim is 
crushed and smothered to death. The bodies of the 
captured insects undergo a kind of rapid decay or 
rather digestion, to accomplish which a fluid oozes 
out from the surfaces of the lobes, and rapidly 
accomplishes the process, after which the softened 
parts are absorbed or soaked up by the leaf. 

The more common Sundew family of plants are 
also professional insect catchers. Each member is 
small; the leaves growing directly from the roots flat 
upon the ground so as to form a kind of rosette. 
The leaf is shaped somewhat like a tennis racquet or 



154 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

an old-fashioned wooden spoon with a comparatively 
large round bowl. On the upper surface of the 
expanded or bowl-shaped part of the leaf a great 
number of fine long filaments are to be found, each 
of them terminated by a little ball or knob. These 
filaments and glands are usually of some bright color, 
and at first sight the leaf looks very like a small 
flower. It may be that insects visit the leaves under 
such a mistaken notion. To render these pretty 
leaves more attractive and illusive, a viscid fluid is 
secreted and poured out on the surface, each tiny 
drop glistening like a diamond in the sunlight. This 
sticky fluid disables any insect that may alight upon 
the leaf; in its annoyance and efforts to escape, the 
unfortunate little creature struggles violently, and in 
so doing touches the sensitive little knobs or glands 
already referred to; immediately the filaments bend 
over toward the excited spot and hold the struggling 
prisoner in a secure grasp. An acid fluid soon appears 
on the surface of the leaf, and the body of the insect 
is soon dissolved and absorbed. The extreme sensi- 
tiveness of these glands and filaments is worthy of 
our notice and admiration. An experimenter found 
that a short piece of hair, weighing only one seventy- 
eight thousandth part of a grain was sufficient to 
cause a bending of the filaments with which it was 
in contact. Any small object, whether living or dead, 
— a fragment of dust for instance, if brought in 
contact with the leaf surface will cause the filament 
to bend and hold it secure, but the plant soon seems 
to discover its error if an indigestible morsel be 



FLOWER-GUI'S. 155 

caught, for it soon releases its hold and resets its 
trap. But whenever a nourishing substance is 
secured, the plant loses its extreme sensitiveness for 
some little time — its hunger appears to have been 
satisfied and it is less eager and ravenous in its efforts 
to capture additional prey. 

Truly, the Creator has inscribed a record of His 
power, even on the leaves of plants. Each bears 
marks of the wisest adaptation. What man can 
suggest, even, in his own mind, an improvement on 
the purpose and effect of the leafy fabric, or, in fact, 
any other item of Jehovah's hand-work? Each in 
its sphere, every one after its kind, is the great law 
in Nature. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

FLOWER-CUPS. 

fw|/Rr^ ARE now to talk for a short time about 
Sal<o"» the flower, the most conspicuous and attrac- 
ffl^d tive part of the plant. To aid us in this 
i§S pleasant undertaking let us procure any 
well-developed, bright, tolerably large blossoms, say 
as the fuchsia, or "ladies' ear-drops," or of the 
geranium, both so deservedly prized as ornamental 
plants. 

Here, on the outside of the colored part of our 
blossom, borne upon the flower stalk, is a sort of cup, 
formed of small, green leaves partly connected 



156 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



together; this is ealled the calyx, a word meaning 
really "a cup," and separate leaflets of which it con- 
sists called the sepals. Within this outer cup grows 
the brightly colored portion of the blossom, and 
this is called the corolla, or the ''crown," and is 
seen to consist of several leaf-like parts which are 
called petals. Still other parts are visible within 
this colored cluster; there we may readily discern a 
number of small thread-like organs, each bearing at 
its top a sort of little box; these have been called the 
stamens. Another "and stouter kind of a thread 
is found in the centre — perhaps more than one, how- 
ever; it is usually curved or expanded at the top and 
considerably thickened in its lower part near the 
part at which it is attached to the flower stalk; this 
is called the pistil. 

An illustration of these parts in their relative 
positions, though dissected each from the others is 
shown in figure 28. 



Petal. 



Stamen. Pistil. 



Pislil. Siamcn. 



Peuil. 




Sepal. Sepal. 

Fig. 28.— Parts of a Typical Flower. 
The number of each of these organs or parts 
present is usually constant for any one kind of flower 



FLOWER-CUPS. 157 

though great diversity exists amongst the vast 
variety of flowers. By cultivation also, what appears 
to be the normal or regular arrangement may be 
changed, and any one of these organs may disappear 
wholly or partly and be replaced by an extra number 
of another kind. For example let us pluck a blossom 
from the modest little wild rose, or the scented 
sweet brier; by carefully examining it we notice five 
distinct sepals, and within are five petals, enclosing 
a multitude of stamens and pistils. By a proper 
cultivation and a careful arrangement of all the 
conditions of growth, the many queenly roses 
of the green -house and garden have been pro- 
duced from this simple flower; yet see the difference 
existing between the wild blossom, and the cultivated 
offspring! Look at the richly tinted fragrant moss- 
rose; the flower seems little else than an orderly 
cluster of large petals, the stamens and pistils are 
not to be found at all, or at least but very lew of 
them; while the beautiful petals may be counted by 
the score. 

The pistil of nearly all flowers, toward its lower 
extremity, is considerably enlarged, forming a swollen 
case, which has been named the ovary, or seed box, 
and within which the ovules or seeds are to be 
found. 

Flowers consisting of all of these separate parts, 
calyx, corolla, stamens and pistils are said to be 
complete; but sometimes one or more of these parts 
are missing, in which case the blossom is termed 
incomplete. But only the stamens and pistils are in 



158 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



reality essential for the growth and perfecting of the 
seed. If either of these be missing, however, the plant 
is unable to perpetuate its kind by producing seed. 
In many blossoms the sepals and petals are connected 
together so that their separate parts can scarcely be 
seen. Look for an example of this at the open cup 
of a morning-glory flower (figure 29.) The corolla 

here seems to consist of 
but one part, the separate 
/ petals being joined togeth- 
er into a trumpet- shaped 
blossom, the fine edge how- 
ever is waving or undu- 
late in outline showing five 
notches or indentations. 
Such a corolla is said to be 
"monopetalous," i. e. con- 
sisting apparently of but 
one petal. In the figure, 

Fig. 29.— Morning Glory the calyx or outer cup is 
Flower. Monopetalous , , 

Corolla. seen below. 

The arrangement of the blossoms is as varied as 

are their forms and colors. In many plants, each 

flower-cup stands separate and alone upon its stalk, 

while others are seen each to be composed of many 

distinct blossoms. Here, for example, in the pretty 

daisy, each of the little blade-like white or pinkish 

organs, shows itself, when magnified, to be in reality 

a perfect flower, consisting of five little petals formed 

in a tube — on the same plan as the morning-glory, 

already examined — within which are five tiny stamens 




HOW FLOWERS ARE FERTILIZED. 159 

and a pistil, with a little seed in its ovary. This is 
also the case with the more conspicuous sunflower, 
and the familiar dandelion, the marigold, and many 
of the commonest of our floral friends.* There is 
an infinite variety in the flowers and leaves, but 
each form proves itself to be the best for the condi- 
tions under which the plant has been designed to 
grow. 




CHAPTER XXXII. 

HOW FLOWERS ARE FERTILIZED. 

|OW let us select some large, conspicuous blos- 
som — a stately tiger lily is a superb illustra- 
tion, and look carefully at the little sack or 
box borne at the tip of each stamen. When 
thoroughly ripened, this is covered with a kind or 
powder of a yellowish, reddish or brownish tint. 
This powdery substance has been called the pollen, 
and each grain when magnified proves to be a little 
hollow ball or box filled with fluid. A 
single pollen grain taken from the modest 
little rose mallow flower is shown in 
Figure 30, very highly magnified. 

Pollen grain ^ ven amon g pollen grains there is a 
from rose variety wide enough to occupy our atten- 
(very highly tion for a long time; so many different 
magnified). sna pes, and each so beautiful. Some 
look like golden balls, chased and ornamented on the 

* From this peculiarity of their structure, the whole 
family of such flowers — and it is a large one is called the 
Composite Family. 




160 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

surface in the most elaborate way, others are more 
angular in outline, and many are elongated or flat- 
tened; but all are exceedingly compact in form and 
light in weight. 

According to the wise plan of Nature, it is neces- 
sary that the fluid contained in the polleo 
grains of any flower shall mingle with the material 
in the ovary from which the ovules or seeds are sub- 
sequently to be produced; and unless such a mixture 
takes place, the plant does not produce fertile seeds. 
The pollen then must in some way be carried from 
flower to flower, in order that the seeds may be fer- 
tile; for the pollen from any flower is not able to well 
and thoroughly fertilize its own seeds; it is best for 
the development of the plant and the production of 
strong and healthy seeds, that the pollen come from 
some other flower of the same kind. And the meth- 
ods that Nature adopts to bring about this transfer of 
the life-giving pollen are as wonderful as they are 
efficient. As plants are rooted to their places of 
growth, they cannot individually visit their neighbors 
and relatives, to mutually exchange their pollen 
grains, so they employ trusty and long-tried mail 
and express messengers to do the work for them. 
Some plants yield their pollen to the insects that 
visit their cups and entrust them with the mission of 
bearing it to others of their kin; while others commit 
it to the wind and hopefully rely that the tiny grains 
will reach the stigmse of other plants. These two 
agents, insects and the wind, are indeed the chief of 
Queen Flora's messengers, and well they do their 



HOW FLOWERS ARE FERTILIZED. 161 

work; but other means are sometimes employed. 
Thus, aquatic plants discharge their pollen into the 
water, each granule securely wrapped in a water- 
proof covering, and so the transfer is made. 

Look for a moment at a bee just emerging from 
some sweet-scented flower cup, at which he has 
been making a flying visit to enquire if he could 
obtain a little honey or nectar for himself and 
family — see he is covered with powder like a dusty 
miller just fresh from the sacks, and this powder is 
the pollen about which we have been talking. 
Then, flying to another blossom, and rubbing against 
the stigma or pistil tip, as he needs must do while 
making his way to the honey cup, he leaves some 
of the pollen dust adhering thereto. At the proper 
season too, the stigma becomes moist and sticky 
from a kind of mucilage produced upon the surface; 
by wnich simple but admirable device a grain of 
pollen once falling upon the stigma is securely held. 

It is a well known fact, that in seeking nectar or 

honey, insects show decided preferences for flowers of 

one kind at one time, rather than for several kinds in 

rapid succession. Thus even the tastes of bees and 

butterflies are to the advantage of the flowers. A 

grain of pollen from a violet cannot fertilize a lily, 

and would be but wasted if left upon its stigma; but 

an insect that starts out to collect nectar from the 

lily would not be likely to visit violets upon that 

trip. In many of our common plants the devices to 

secure the safe transfer and interchange of pollen 

through the visits of hungry insects are of the most 
12 



162 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

surprising and striking kind. Examine the small and 
humble blossom of the lucern or the clover. The 
flower is somewhat irregular in form it is true, but 
this very irregularity is of the greatest importance in 
the fertilizing of its flowers. Take a stiff bristle or 
horse hair, or a fine grass stalk, or something of 
the kind and thrust it carefully into the opening 
of the corolla as a bee would insert its trunk in 
quest of honey. Look carefully into the flower cup as 
you do this, and you will be rewarded by a strange 
sight. Before the insertion has been carried far, the 
curiously shaped stamen, which before this time has 
been hidden, is liberated forcibly as by a spring, and 
immediately it flies forward, striking the hair or 
bristle and leaving pollen upon it. Now thrust this 
hair into another blossom of the same kind, and you 
will doubtlessly see that the pollen is rubbed off and 
left upon the stigma of the second flower. Such an 
occurrence is common when an insect inserts its long 
hair-like trunk into the cup, and in this way the 
exchange, so indispensable for the production of 
good seed is accomplished. 

A more beautifully perfect arrangement and adap- 
tation than is shown in the plan for the fertilization 
of different flowers, can scarcely be seen or con- 
ceived. Many flowers are of so peculiar a shape, 
that not all classes of insects are able to pollenate 
them. Such, for instance, is the case with the clover 
blossom, which is best fertilized through the visits of 
bees. In this connection, it is recorded, that shortly 
after the English people began to colonize Australia, 



HOW FLOWERS ARE FERTILIZED. 163 

they carried to that land, the seed of their much- 
prized clover; and though the crops were heavy, and 
the quality the best, yet no fertile seed was pro- 
duced. All the seed had to be imported, though 
appearances indicated that the plants grew perfectly, 
stalk, leaf, and flower, all vigorous and strong. An 
observing student of nature, pointed out the cause 
of the difficulty — there were no bees in Australia, 
and consequently no transfer of pollen could be 
effected between the plants. Instead of bringing 
fresh supplies of seed, the colonists began to import 
a great number of bees; these throve so well on the 
clover flowers, that their stock of honey was an ample 
return for the labor and expense of importation; but 
of far greater value was the fertilization of the clover 
which these insects brought about. As they flew 
from flower to flower, they bore the pollen with them, 
and, in consequence, large crops of healthy seed 
were produced. Thus the insects assist the flowers, 
and the flowers support the insects; neither can 
thrive without the other. 

Between the two great classes of flowers, those 
fertilized through the agency of insects and those 
whose pollen is carried from one to the other by the 
wind, many great differences exist. In the case of any 
and all flowers fertilized by insects, the blossoms are 
more or less conspicuously colored, apparently with 
the design of attracting insects to them; and then 
again, all such flowers secrete some kind of sweet 
juice or nectar, to secure which the insects eagerly 
enter the corollas. 



164 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Many flowers unfold their petals only at night, as 
for instance the large evening primrose family; such 
plants are fertilized through the visits of various 
nocturnal moths, and their flowers are always white 
or at least light-colored, apparently so as to be seen 
the more readily by these insects. It would be a 
decided disadvantage to such flowers to be open 
during the day; their fragile blossoms would be 
exposed to injury, and the nectar would perhaps be 
stolen away by insects not of the proper size and 
shape to effect the fertilization, or perchance the sweet 
juices would be dried up by the heat of the sun, so 
that by night they would have no alluring nectar 
to tempt the nocturnal moths to visit them. In con- 
sequence, the Mower cups are tightly closed during 
the day; but as soon as the twilight comes, they 
wake from their sleep, and spread out their brightly 
colored petals like banners of light, offering a 
tempting resting place to the passing moth, and 
asking in return for such courtesy only the small 
favor of bringing a tiny packet from another plant 
and carrying a similar parcel to the next. By another 
wise provision, those flowers that depend upon bees, 
butterflies, and all kinds of diurnal fliers for then- 
fertilization, close their petals with the sun, and 
sleep in peace and quiet till the return of day, with 
its warmth and light and merry insect hum. 

On the other hand, wind-fertilized flowers are in 
general small, and inconspicuously colored, and they 
secrete no honey. Such plants as a rule grow in 
large groups or bunches, as is the case with the 



HOW FLOWERS ARE FERTILIZED. 165 

grains arid grasses, so that a greater quantity of 
pollen is borne by the wind over the region in which 
they grow. But this beautiful adaptation is carried 
even farther. It is a well known fact that insects 
are usually attracted by brilliant colors. Remem- 
bering this, let us examine any bright variegated 
blossom, a light-tinted pansy or "heart's ease" for 
instance: notice the arrangement of the streaks of 
most striking colors upon the outspread petals, all 
directed like the veins of a fairy's fan toward a centre; 
this centre is the entrance to the nectary where also 
the pollen-covered anther lies concealed. Watch 
now an insect as it alights on the expanded lip of 
the flower; it follows the direction of the brightly- 
colored lines, and thrusts its proboscis into the nec- 
tary, gaining the honey for its pains, and receiving 
also with very little chance of failure, the pollen 
from the well- stocked stamens. In many variegated 
flowers bright-colored hairs are seen pointing toward 
the cup of sweets so much desired by the flying visitors. 

Observe also that many flowers hang with their 
corollas opening downward, by which means the 
nectar is protected in its cavity from rain; and see 
also how nearly all honey-producing plants with 
erect blossoms close their cups and bow their heads 
at the approach of rain or storm. 

Such, then, seems to have been the great Creator's 
purpose, that not even the color of a flower or the tinted 
streaks on the corolla tube, or the particles of dust 
on the stamens, or the honey drop within the blossom 
cup, is made without a purpose both great and wise. 




166 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

FRUITS. 

S$JS SOON as the fertilization of the flower has 
been affected by any of the methods of 
Nature, some of which have been briefly re- 
ferred to already, the object for which the 
corolla of the plant seems to have been created, is 
accomplished; and thereupon the most brilliant part 
of the flower begins to wither and very soon disap- 
pears. If the corolla continued in its beauty after 
the pollen had been given and received, as far as the 
plant itself is concerned, it would be purely an object 
of display; and to insects flying past it would be but 
a delusive snare to visit the blossom when the 
nectary was empty and the anthers devoid of pollen. 
Such a visit would not be simply useless to the visit- 
ing insect, but positively injurious to the flower; for 
no insect can possibly enter a flower without causing 
danger to the delicate parts: such dangers are cer- 
tainly best avoided in the critical time at which the 
seed is forming within the ovary. Beside, should a 
large insect alight upon a blossom and find no nectar 
within the cup to slake his thirst, nor honey to bear 
away, after having been attracted thither through 
the bright tints of the flower, he may show his disap- 
pointment by undue haste to retire, with injurious 
consequences to the flower. 

As fast as the corolla withers away, the ovary con- 
taining now the fertilized seeds, increases in size, 



FRUITS. 167 

forming the so-called fruit of the plant. There are 
many varieties of fruit, differing in form and size; 
though some of the soft and luscious parts of plants 
which we esteem under the name of fruits, are in 
fact no fruits at all. 

A fruit, strictly speaking, is the ripened ovary of 
a plant with its contents. The pod fruit is a com- 
mon kind, familiar to us all through the typical form 
of peas and beans. And of this one kind there are 
many minor varieties differing in proportionate size 
and shape; all of them, however, readily splitting 
open at maturity so as to scatter the ripened ovules. 
Examples of small pods are furnished by the fruit of 
the mustard plant and the common pepper grass, and 
also the sack-shaped vessel of the modest little shep- 
herd's purse. Then there is the gourd fruit, such as 
the melon, squash, cucumber and pumpkin, with its 
hard rind on the outside, and the soft, pulpy interior 
with its multitude of seeds. These monstrous fruits 
are simply the swollen ovaries of the spring blossoms, 
and it is instructive to watch the development of the 
fruit from the flower through the various stages. 
When the gourd is ripe, the dried and withered 
corolla may be seen still attached at the end. 

Now let us glance at another form of fruit, the 
berry, in which the seed vessel has grown soft 
and fleshy throughout, the seeds being contained in 
the pulp. Examples of berries are furnished by the 
currant, gooseberry and tomato. Then there is the 
drupe or stone-fruit, in which one part of the ovary 
has hardened into a shell like that of a nut, enclosing 



168 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the kernel or seed proper, while the outer portion is 
soft and juicy. For this provision we have reason to 
be thankful, since such fruits are so delicious as food. 

The pome fruit, such as the apple, pear or quince, 
is a peculiar kind. The core is in reality the true 
seed vessel; the "pips" contained within are the 
seeds, while the soft parts, forming so large a 
proportion of the whole is produced by an abnormal 
growth and thickening of the calyx or outer tube of 
the original blossom. 

To produce flowers that finally ripen into fruit 
with perfect seeds, is apparently the great achieve- 
ment for which all plants strive; and as soon as this 
labor is accomplished the plant withers and dies, 
either wholly as with all annual plants, or partially 
as in the case of biennials and perennials. 

THE SEED AND HOW IT SPROUTS. 

A vegetable seed has always seemed to me to be 
an object of great interest. It holds within its little 
shell such wondrous possibilities. Who would even 
dream, if he had never seen the actual occurrence, 
that the tiny apple pip, concealed beneath its tough 
little jacket the germ of so vigorous an existence, 
a spark of vitality that may develop into a wide- 
spreading tree, blazing in the spring-time with 
beauteous blossoms and verdant leaves, and, in the 
autumn months, laden with fruit, producing yearly 
thousands of other seeds like itself. It would be 
interesting to watch it as it grows, and instructive to 
learn the lesson of its little life. But as the apple 
seed is too small to be closely examined by our un- 



FRUITS. 169 

aided vision, let us select a more convenient, and an 
easier form, showing, however, the same principle. 
Take, for instance, a few plump beans, of almost any 
kind — common white or black beans will answer 
well. Soak them for a few hours in water, by which 
treatment they will lose their hard and brittle char- 
acter and become soft and yielding. Now, let us 
tear off, carefully, the outside skin — look at it atten- 
tively before throwing it aside; note its tough, 
leathery nature — -well adapted, indeed, to protect 
the still more wonderful structures within. We 
see that our bean consists of two parts, readily 
separated from each other; let us open them — laying 
them back as one would the covers of a book — and 
there, snugly packed between the lobes, is the baby 
bean plant — a pair of little leaves, folded as Nature 
is wont to fold her treasures when she lays them 
away, and a tiny root. 

The process of germination then is really one of 
development only; the young plant is present in the 
seed, formed there through the agency of the parent 
plant, and only awaiting the influences of warmth 
and nourishment to hasten its growth. But what are 
these two large thick lobes already spoken of between 
which the young bean was so snugly laid away? 
Man values them as food for himself and animals, 
but they were originally intended to serve as food to 
the young plant when it would begin to grow, and 
before it would have developed sufficiently to absorb 
its own nutriment from the soil. 

By the aid of the microscope we would soon (lis- 



170 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

cover that this bean is composed mostly of starch — 
the form in which the food of plants is commonly 
stored up for future use. Starch is to plants what 
fat is in the animal body. Now we have already 
pointed out that no food is available to the plant 
unless in a state of solution, and starch cannot be 
dissolved in water. How then can the rich stock of 
starch present in the bean be made use of? As soon 
as the bean begins to sprout, a peculiar change is 
effected in the material of which it is composed, the 
starch being transformed into a kind of sugar, which 
as all of us know full well, is readily soluble in water. 
The sugar thus formed in the germinating seed has 
not been created from any external source, but is 
formed from the elements of the starch already 
present. As fast as the sugar develops the starch 
disappears. The moisture present within the plant 
dissolves the sugar to a kind of syrup, which is 
absorbed and assimilated within the tissues of the 
infant plant. Some may ask, why it would not have 
been better for the plant if its food had been formed 
of sugar in the first place; no such complicated trans- 
formation would in such case be required, and the 
food would have been in a more available state. 
The answer to this furnishes another proof of the 
supreme wisdom exercised by the Creator over the 
many objects of His care. If the bean and other 
seeds contained sugar instead of starch, the first rain 
storm would wash it away and leave the tiny plant 
for whose benefit the food was designed, entirely 
destitute of nourishment. It is better then that the 



FRUITS. 171 

food remain in an insoluble and unavailable form 
until the time of sprouting. Again, many of these 
rich and starch filled seeds are of great practical 
use to man; and he could not feed himself and ani- 
mals on sugar. Starch is very valuable as food to 
animals and is constantly being eaten by man and 
beast in great quantities, but sugar can only be 
eaten sparingly. 

By taking advantage of this strange change of 
the starchy matter into sugar as the seed germinates, 
the brewer obtains his malt. A quantity of grain 
is taken (barley is found to be the best adapted to 
the purpose) and kept for some time in a damp and 
warm place — just the conditions which naturally pre- 
vail in the spring time, and are so effectual in 
awakening the sleeping germ. Under these artificial 
conditions the barley forthwith sprouts, at the same 
time, a quantity of sugar is developed from the 
starchy material of each grain. This we may satis- 
factorily prove by chewing a few of the sprouting 
grains, or a kernel of the prepared malt — the sweet 
taste is conclusive evidence of the presence of sugar. 
The malster then increases the heat sufficiently to 
kill the tiny plants and thus he prevents them absorb- 
ing and using the food now ready; then by soaking 
and fermenting the malt, the sugar is transformed 
into the intoxicating alcohol which is present in all 
liquors produced. 

What has been said of the bean is true of all 
plants of the kind. There are some seeds however, 
like that of Indian corn, which consist of but one 



172 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

lobe in place of two; and when such seeds sprout they 
produce but one leaf at first, instead of a pair. These 
are characteristic features of all endogenous or 
"inside growing plants" while the exogenous or 
"outside growers" possess double seeds and a pair 
of first leaves like the bean. This is a distinctive 
feature between the two classes of plants and 
has been already referred to. We may readily 
watch the seed through all the wonderful and inter- 
esting stages of germination and growth at least 
until the distinct parts of the plant, root and stem 
and leaves, have been formed, by taking seeds of 
various kind, peas, beans, Indian corn and the like — 
and sowing them on moist cotton wool. By keeping 
this damp and warm for a few days germination is 
induced, and can be easily watched and studied. If 
it be desirable to carry this method of culture farther, 
the plants should be taken one by one, and each 
loosely inserted into a vertical slit cut in a cork, 
which has been previously fitted to a bottle contain- 
ing water. By a careful arrangement the roots can 
be kept immersed, while the seed itself and the stem 
are out of the liquid. Let us observe how the thick 
bulky seed shrivels and shrinks as it gets rid of its 
load of food matter. The root of the growing plant 
soon spreads within the bottle and fills the greater 
part of the space while the stem and leaves develop 
with equal vigor above the cork. In this experiment 
ordinary hard water should be used, the solid matters 
contained in the water are needed within the body of 
the plant, and pure water could not sustain the 



FRUITS. 173 

growth. Unless the soluble matter which naturally 
forms the food of the plant when growing in the soil 
be added to the solution, the growth will be checked 
long before maturity is reached. The process can be 
assisted by adding water in which wood ashes have 
been stirred and allowed to stand for some time; 
the clear fluid being then poured off; but to 
secure the best possible result with large and mature 
plants, a chemically prepared solution is requisite.* 

By this method of " water culture" we may easily 
study the growth of seeds with all their wonders. 
By these means plants can be developed to maturity; 
maize plants have been grown from five to six feet 
high; and buckwheat plants nearly seven feet high. 



* For the information of those who would desire to 
carry this truly interesting subject further, the following 
directions are given for preparing a culture fluid. Great 
care must be exercised in the mixing: Take 75 grains of 
fine powder of well-burned bones (bone-ash can be pro- 
cured at drug establishments); place in a large bowl or 
vessel not of metal; pour on it a little boiling water, 
and add cautiously while still hot a small quantity of 
nitric acid. (This acid is sometimes called aqua fortis; it 
is extremely corrosive and poisonous and must be used 
with great care.) Enough acid should be added to nearly 
dissolve the bone ash; do not use too much, however, not 
enough to give the solution a permanently sour taste. 
Then add 45 grains of nitre, 28 grains of Epsom salts, and 
15 grains of potassium chloride— all of which can be 
obtained at the druggists for a very few cents. When all 
are dissolved, add enough water to make the solution up 
to two gallons. This can be used to advantage in culti- 
vating any ordinary plant by the method before explained. 



174 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

WANDERING SEEDS. 

@Jg»HE number of seeds produced by a single 
£§!/<£ plant, is frequently surprising; and if this 

¥ multitude of seeds were deposited when ripe, 
in the neighborhood of the parent plant, the 
space of ground would soon be impoverished, and 
prove unable to furnish necessary nourishment to the 
increasing numbers. As with mankind, when a family 
increases so that the habitation is really too small 
for their accommodation, the grown-up sons and 
daughters, leave the parental roof and seek homes 
for themselves. So with plants. Nature has pro- 
vided many devices, by which the seeds are borne 
away from the locality in which they grew, and are 
scattered under circumstances best calculated for 
their future development and well-being. 

Some such wandering seeds travel to very great 
distances. Look with care at the white plumes of 
the dandelion — the flower of civilization. The button 
or head of the ripe flower is seen to be studded with 
small, hard bodies, each covered with little barbs 
directed upward, and surmounted by a pretty little 
tuft of shining hairs, called the pappus. These are 
the seeds, each equipped for travel in the neatest and 
most compact way; all its belongings packed in the 
smallest possible space — packed as only Dame Nature 
can pack — no unwieldy trunks, nor bulky carpet- 
bags, and yet, containing within the little parcel, 



WANDERING SEEDS. 175 

the possibilities of future flowers, with honey and 
hum of bee associated, of meadows carpeted with 
golden blossoms, and fields ablaze with a fire that 
speaks of Omnipotence. With the least stir of wind 
the wide-spread pappus is borne away, the seed sus- 
pended below. Watch it riding upon the air, poised 
more beautifully than cumbrous parachute or swol- 
len balloon. When it rests it is perhaps many miles 
away from the place of its birth. As it floats, the 
barbed seed being the heaviest part is always below, 
and as it comes to the ground, the seed touches the 
earth first. Then, by the waving to and fro, of the 
downy pappus, the seed is worked deeper and deeper 
into the soil; the little barbs or hooks upon its sur- 
face effectually preventing its withdrawal. In this 
wise and perfect way the seed is safely sown. Such 
an admirable adaptation to travel, explains the wide 
distribution of this humble flower, originally native 
to Europe, but now scattered over the world. Neither 
mountains nor plains, winds nor oceans have been 
of sufficient power to intercept it in its wander- 
ings. . 

All that has been said as to the arrangement of 
the dandelion seed may be repeated with truth 
regarding the seed of the sowthistle, with its silken 
tuft of hairs; and the lettuce seed, and the 
sneezeweed, and the sun-flower with its short pappus 
composed of but a single scale. For another striking 
example let us seek the seed of our ordinary milk- 
weed or silk grass. We may find the ovaries bursting 
open in autumn and revealing the bundles of seeds 



176 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

within each bearing a tuft of silvery hairs of almost 
indescribable beauty. The seed itself is flattened, 
and the surface roughened by numerous projecting 
points. The seed is borne away by the breath of the 
wiud, though it be but the gentlest zephyr, and when 
deposited, it falls and is sown after the manner of 
the dandelion already described. The seeds of some 
plants are so minute that their very smallness insures 
their transportation; of such a kind are the spores of 
mosses, lichens and ferns; they seem to find their 
way everywhere from the mountain top to the deep- 
est caverns of the earth.* 

The seeds of maple, elm, box-elder, ash and pine 
are provided with wing-like expansions to aid in 
transportation, while others are wrapped in a cottony! 
or woolly covering, as is the case with the willow and 
poplar families of plants, and by these means they 
are borne from place to place. 

In the case of plants whose seeds are not adapted 
for long journeys, arrangements no less remarkable 
and perfect are made to secure a proper distribution 
and scattering of the seed over less extended areas. 
The jewel- weed, sometimes also called snap-weed, 
and by others very appropriately named touch-me- 
not, is a common little plant in many parts of Europe; 

* Mr. Swartz, a reliable traveler and observer, states 
that he found in Jamaica many species of mosses and 
ferns identical with those common to the northern part of 
Europe, though all other plants were new and peculiar. 

t The raw cotton of commerce, which is reckoned among 
the most valuable productions of the vegetable kingdom, 
is the downy covering of the seeds of the cotton plant. 



WANDERING SEEDS. 177 

and, though less common here, it is of so remarkable 
and interesting a nature as to merit at least a men- 
tion. Its seeds, five in number, are attached to a 
carpel or seed case; at maturity the attachment 
becomes very highly elastic, ready to break loose at 
the slightest touch. When shaken or in any way 
disturbed they coil themselves with a sudden jerk 
and scatter the seeds to a considerable distance. 
The seeds of the so-called lady's slipper and of the 
sweet-pea are scattered when ripe in an analagous 
way by the elasticity of their capsules. 

The squirting cucumber is even more peculiar than 
these in its method of scattering its seeds. As it 
ripens, the fruit becomes filled and finally distended 
with a watery juice; soon the pressure becomes so 
great that the cucumber breaks loose from the stalk 
at the point of attachment, the mingled water and 
seeds being projected through the orifice with suf- 
ficient force to carry them a great distance. 

Nearly all wandering seeds manifest decided 
preferences for fine, dry weather, the parent plants 
seem willing to release their winged progeny only at 
such times. There is consequently, less liability of 
moisture being condensed upon the wings or the 
downy attachments of the seed and thus impeding 
its progress. A notable exception ought to be 
recorded to this rule, so marked, in fact, that it tes- 
tifies, as strongly as the general tendency from which 
it differs, to an Omniscient design. The desert ice 
plant, found on dry and sandy plains, opens its seed 
capsules during the wet seasons, for only at such 

13 



178 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

times, in places naturally parched, would there be 
sufficient moisture to promote germination. 

But aerial travel is not the only mode of trans- 
portation employed by vegetable seeds in their wan- 
derings; they go also by water and by land. Most 
seeds are snugly wrapped in impermeable coverings, 
within which they can safely remain submerged for 
a long time. Seeds of semi-tropical plants are fre- 
quently cast ashore on the northern coasts, and 
would doubtless grow there but for the severity of 
the climatic conditions. The seeds of many aquatic 
plants are known to be carried on the feathers of 
water fowl to distant lakes and rivers. 

Now let us look at the seed of a burdock plant — 
the burdock button, as we call it, though it is doubt- 
ful if buttons made after such a pattern would be 
at all desirable. These prickly seeds are liter- 
ally covered with sharp hooks and barbs, by which 
they become attached, and firmly too, to the hair or 
wool of animals that may come in contact with the 
plant. See the condition of horses and cattle as 
they come in from their winter range, their manes 
and tails matted with burs — not a very pleasing 
spectacle, it is true — they are at such times unwilling 
agents in the employ of eager plants, seemingly 
anxious to give their offspring a start in life. When 
the wool or hair is shed, perhaps far from the mother 
plant, the seed reaches the ground where it subse- 
quently germinates and establishes a new home. Or 
as it frequently happens, the animal may be killed, 
and its hide sent to distant parts, even across the 



WANDERING SEEDS. 179 

ocean, where by cleaning, the seeds are set free to 
grow afresh. 

Many birds feed largely on seeds and small fruits; 
which in some cases are so thoroughly protected by 
hard and tough outer coats or shells, that they 
resist for a long time the action of the digestive 
fluids within the body of the bird, and may be 
deposited aad grown in distant parts. Amateur 
gardeners in southern Europe are in the habit of 
shooting migratory birds that are just returning in 
the early spring from more southern climes, for the 
sake of obtaining the foreign seeds within their 
stomachs. 

Dr. Sumner states that the Hollanders, being 
unable to retain their possession of the Spice Islands 
determined to abandon them, but before doing so, 
they jealously rooted out the nutmeg plants, which 
formed in fact the most valuable production of the 
islands. The birds, however, administered a striking- 
rebuke to such cupidity, by soon disseminating 
the nutmeg seeds over the land. Such a case shows 
but the selfish ignorance of man; the Creator dis- 
plays His wise power through the humblest instru- 
ment, but accomplishes His purposes in all their 
righteous fulness. The currents of the sea, the 
breezes of the land, the birds and the beasts and 
even men are unconsciously acting in the service of 
an all-directing power, and do much to diversify and 
beautify the earth by carrying the ovules of flowers 
and fruits from place to place. 



180 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

PARASITIC PLANTS. 

3$SS PARASITE, whether among men, animals 
&fo® or plants, is an individual who contrives to 
j^5 live at the expense of another. And many 
y such are to be met with in the vegetable 
kingdom. As we have already seen, the root is the 
organ by which the plant obtains its food from the 
soil; but there are some plants, which, instead of 
developing roots of their own and striking into the 
earth, manage to become attached to larger plants 
and rob them of their juices. 

Such for instance is the case with the majestic 
mistletoe, with which we are most familiar from the 
interesting rites attending it at Christmastide. This 
plant is a true parasite on the oak tree, striking a 
kind of root into the branches or stem of its host, 
and abstracting the juices and sap therefrom. 

The common dodder — of tantalizing frequency in 
many gardens and fields, is another of the kind. In 
the early part of its existence it appears to be a per- 
fectly natural and well-behaved plant, rising from a 
seed within the soil as other respectable vegetables 
do; but it is by nature a climbing plant, and to assist 
itself in its ascent, it twines itself about the body of 
any other plant that may be near at hand. It 
tightens its hold upon the supporting plant from the 
first, and finally becomes entirely parasitic, taking 
the juices of its living prop, and ceasing to absorb 



PARASITIC PLANTS. 181 

food for itself from the soil. At such time it may be 
severed near the ground from its root without detri- 
ment, as it no longer supports itself. 

A much smaller, and in fact a more unwelcome 
form is the potato-blight, which frequently occurs in 
such profusion as to destroy the entire potato crop 
through very large districts. The spores (correspond- 
ing to the seeds of larger plants) from which this 
growth is developed, are extremely small, and may 
be borne by the wind or through the medium of 
water to the potato plant, upon which they immedi- 
ately begin to grow. They attach themselves to the 
leaves of the potato plants, by sending off little 
threads corresponding to roots, which penetrate the 
tissue of the leaves and stems by passing between 
the fibres and the cells; and succeed in stealing away 
the juices and the sap, resulting before long in the 
ruin of the plant. The potato-blight has many 
relatives, all extremely small, and all growing 
with rank luxuriance under favorable conditions. 
Some infest one particular kind of plant and others 
are found on many. We are familiar with those that 
grow on wheat, rye, barley, Indian corn and the like, 
of which we speak as vast, smut, mildew, ergot, etc. 
The black or brown dust to be seen in grain smuts is 
composed of innumerable spores of these parasites, 
each of which under proper conditions may develop 
and thrive to infest future grain crops, though some 
seasons seem much more favorable than others to 
such growths. 

There is an unknown number of microscopic plant^ 



182 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

all interesting and instructive in their structure and 
growth. A very common form is the mildew or mould, 
so common on damp leather, old shoes, bread and 
vegetables that have attained a venerable age, fruits 
and preserves and the like. There also are plants, 
growing in much the same way as the potato-blight 
by absorbing nourishment from the substances to 
which they are attached. If we examine such, even 
with an ordinary pocket lens, the patch of mildew 
becomes transformed into a beautiful forest, like 
those we read of as existing in fairy-land, wherever 
that may be. There are the stems, looking like 
trunks of trees, and bearing the spore cases, not 
unlike the ripened seed capsules of the garden poppy, 
each rilled with spores. 

Moulds seem to grow almost everywhere, often 
springing up without apparent cause, so that some 
people have imagined that they originate spontan- 
eously from the materials upon which they are found 
growing. Such an idea is erroneous. Though but 
simple in structure and with very few parts when 
compared with the apple tree and the oak, that little 
patch of mildew is still a colony of perfect living organ- 
isms, and such can only originate from germs or seeds 
of their own kind. But whence came the spores of these 
musty moulds on our walls and books and every- 
where. The microscope again comes to our aid and 
shows us that the air in nearly all places is heavily 
laden with the tiny spores of these fungi; which 
indeed are so fine that they are borne about through 
£he air without our knowledge, but as soon as they 



PARASITIC PLANTS. 183 

fall in any still damp place, affording proper nourish- 
ment, at once they begin to grow. 

Man is as utterly unable by his own knowledge 
and instrumentality to originate a tiny patch of 
green mould, as he is to raise an oak tree from the 
soil without first planting the acorn. Every plant 
and every animal increases after its kind, and only 
so. 




Part III. 

The Mineral or Stone Kingdom. 



"Aly heart is awed within me, when I think 
Of the great miracle which still goes on 
In silence round me — the perpetual work 
Of Thy creation, finished, yet renewed 
Forever." 




CHAPTER XXXVI. 

ROCKS AND STONES. 

!HUS far in the course of this little book we 
have directed our attention to the study and 
observation of animals and plants, the two 
great and natural divisions of living things. 
It will be remembered that these were spoken of as 
two of the three great kingdoms of Nature, the 
Mineral Kingdom being the third, and about this 
thus far we have said nothing. The mineral king- 
dom includes all those natural objects that are with- 
out life, such as stones, metals and their ores. These 
do not grow and increase as do things that live; they 
do not feed or feel; in short, they are dead. Com- 
mon and unattractive things these stones seem to us 



ROCKS AND STONES. 185 

at most times, devoid of the beauteous form of leaf 
and flower, and showing none of the winning traits 
of our animal friends. Yet we may find the stones 
capable of teaching most valuable lessons to those 
who are willing to learn. 

Stone or Bock is the material of which the earth's 
crust is composed; in small masses this is called stone, 
in larger ones, rock.* 

Thus even layers of soil and loose bodies of sand 
and clay would be termed rock in referring to the 
structure of the earth's crust. 

There seem to be so many different kinds of stone, 
that one feels to despair of the hope of finding out 
much about each; but we have already met a similar 
difficulty in speaking of animals and vegetables — 
their name was "legion" too; and yet we have been 
able to classify them in companies, each comprising 
such as resembled one another in most respects; and 
by these means we have extended our understanding 
over these subjects in a way which would have been 
impossible under other conditions. And so also will 
it prove with stones and rocks. Look for instance at 
the cobble stones, such as lie scattered about the 



* A very common application of the word "rock" to 
stones of any size is peculiar to certain regions of the 
United States. In other parts of the English speaking 
world such a lack of all distinction would be regarded 
with disfavor; and to speak of boys throwing "rocks" at 
each other, one writer says, would be regarded as "a 
supremely ridiculous expression." To be precise therefore 
we should speak of "stone" when meaning a small mass 
of rock, and of "rock" when we refer to very large stones. 



186 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

streets; they are of many colors, and of a still greater 
diversity of shape, so that any kind of a classification 
based upon color or form would appear to be nearly 
if not quite impossible, so we must try some other 
means of distinction aud separation. 

Take your pocket-knife — a stout, blunt blade will 
be the best — and try to scratch with it several of 
these stones. In some cases you will succeed in 
scoring or furrowing the surface of the stone; in 
others, nothing but a glistening streak appears 
— no furrow, no indentation, because the stone 
was too hard ; the shining line is caused by 
particles of the steel having been rubbed off, through 
the superior hardness of the stone. Now chip off a 
small piece from one of the softer kind, and a piece 
also from one of the hard sort. Provide, then, a 
small vessel, such as a nappy or a wine-glass, half- 
full of strong vinegar. Put the fragment of 
hard stone into the vinegar; most likety, nothing 
sufficiently striking to attract our attention will 
occur, unless the stone be porous, in which case, 
several bubbles of air will rise through the liquid as 
they escape from the pores, but this will very soon 
cease. 

Now place the bit of soft stone into the vinegar 
and watch again. In all probability there will appear 
to be a very great disturbance within the glass; 
bubbles of gas escaping from the stone throw the 
vinegar into violent agitation, so that it appears at 
first sight to be actually boiling; this, however, is a 
delusion, the contents of the glass are far from being 



ROCKS AND STONES. 187 

warm enough to boil. This gas which is escaping 
from the bit of stone is called "carbon dioxide"; it 
used to be known under the name of "carbonic acid 
gas"; and it formed in reality part of the stone. It 
has been imprisoned within the hard material of the 
rocky mass perhaps for centuries, but is set free at 
once through the action of the vinegar. If the stone 
had been ground to powder before being added to 
the vinegar, the action would have been much more 
violent, perhaps sufficiently so to throw the liquid 
out of the vessel. The bubbling and agitation within 
the vessel would be all the more striking if a stronger 
acid were used instead of the vinegar. Muriatic 
acid or sulphuric acid may be employed — the 
former is better; a small quantity of either may be 
obtained at any druggist's establishment at a low 
price. Very great care must be exercised in the use 
of these acids. They are both exceedingly poisonous 
and corrosive, but this is especially the case with 
sulphuric acid or "oil of vitriol" as it is sometimes 
named. A single drop falling on the dress may 
produce a hole in the cloth; if it comes in contact 
with the flesh it will result in painful sores unless 
washed off immediately; and if accidentally taken 
into the mouth it would prove a rapid and fearful 
poison. Strong vinegar, though less powerful in its 
action, is safer for our present purpose, and would 
better be used in testing rocks, except by those who 
are somewhat used to handling chemicals. 

Here, then, is a ready distinction between several 
varieties of common stones. We have seen that 



188 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

some are so hard that a knife does not scratch them, 
and upon these, acids have no effect; these are termed 
siliceous stones. Then we have spoken of others, 
which, although quite hard, can yet be easily 
scratched with a knife blade, and upon which acids 
act vigorously; these are called calcareous stones. 
All kinds of marble and limestone belong to this 
second class; and from such lime is made by burning 
(or more properly, by heating, since it is the fuel that 
burns and not the rock itself). Heat will set free 
and drive off the carbon dioxide gas contained in 
the stone as the acid did in our little experiment 
already described; and after this gas has gone from 
this kind of stone, lime remains. The Romans called 
lime calx; and from this word we have learned to 
speak of all rocks that yield lime when heated, as 
calcareous rocks. 

We may find many stones, however, which are soft 
enough to be readily scratched by a knife, and yet 
are not affected by acids to any degree. Such for 
instance would be the case with stones produced 
from clay, such as slates and the like. These we 
may call clay stones for the present. In some parts 
of Utah and in many other regions we may find 
stones so soft that they can easily be scratched by 
the finger uail, and are not acted upon by acids at 
all. This soft material is called gypsum or plaster 
stone. The latter name is given from the fact that 
if such stones be placed in a kiln and heated, steam 
would escape instead of carbon dioxide gas; and in 
place of lime the so-called plaster of Paris is formed 



ROCKS AND STONES. 189 

within the kiln. This substance is called "plaster 
of Paris" because it was first produced a great many 
years ago from a rock found near Paris, in France. 
It is very highly prized for producing the fine and 
smooth hard finish, so much admired on the inner 
walls of houses; also for taking impressions and casts 
of various objects. When mixed with water so as 
to form a kind of paste or cream, it can be moulded 
or poured, and soon afterward it "sets" or becomes 
hard, preserving all the details of form of the object 
by which it was shaped. 

Gypsum exists in great quantities and in a wide 
variety of forms in many parts of our mountain 
regions. Beautiful specimens of transparent gypsum 
(called from their lustre ''selenite," meaning like the 
moon) may be found in many parts of Sanpete 
County, in the hills around Manti and Gunnison, 
also in Salina Canon, Sevier County; and immense 
deposits of uncrystallized gypsum or plaster stone are 
found near Nephi, Juab County, in Kane County, 
and in many other parts. 

We have learned, then, to recognize these four 
classes of stones: siliceous, calcareous, clay and 
plaster stones, whenever we meet with them; and 
these are the commonest we will be likely to find on 
the surface of the ground. These are simple stones, 
so named from the fact that each one of them con- 
sists of but one kind of material, but there are many 
others more complicated in structure, each con- 
sisting of several kinds. Examine a piece of 
granite, for instance, it is a common kind of stone, and 



190 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

will be recognized by most of our readers without 
difficulty. It is of this beautiful and enduring 
material our great temple in Salt Lake City is built. 
Even a hasty glance shows this to consist of 
several distinct constituents; there are some white 
pieces scattered through the rock which prove to be 
very hard; a knife does not scratch them, and acid 
cannot affect them; these are pieces of siliceous stone 
usually called quartz; then there is another kind of 
material to be seen, usually flesh-colored or white, 
and showing brilliant faces if held toward the light, 
so as to reflect as a mirror would; this is called 
feldspar; and then there are some darker specks, in 
reality little scales, and are called mica. Granite, 
then, consists of three simple rocks, mingled and 
solidified together — quartz, feldspar and mica. We 
shall, perhaps, find other stony mixtures of this kind, 
if we look about us. With the aid of our little 
pocket magnifying glasses we will be able to dis- 
tinguish the ingredients of most of the common 
ones. 



CHAPTER XXXVli. 

PEBBLES AND WHAT THEY HAVE TO TELL. 

iNLY a pebble from the brook! Look at it with 
% care — rounded and worn, it looks old, and 
indeed it is. Without doubt it has existed in 
that state for a very great time — longer than 
any of us have lived on earth. If it had a tongue 



PEBBLES. 191 

and could 'talk to us, that rough-looking stone 
would have strange stories to tell of its past 
history. I would like very much to ask it how 
it came here, what gave it that smooth surface and 
rounded form, and how it is that there are so many 
different sizes and shapes of pebbles, and so on. 

It has certainly gone through a polishing process, 
and the mill in which this was carried on, was in fact 
the river itself. Look at the stones in the bed of a 
running stream; as the water moves they are con- 
stantly jostled against one another and rolled over 
and over and knocked together, in consequence of 
which they become smooth and round. Fast flowing 
water is able to move much greater weights than 
slow streams, and therefore only small pebbles reach 
the lower parts of the stream, where the water has 
become spread out and runs but slowly, while as we 
follow the stream toward its head the stones in its 
bed become larger and larger, until we reach the 
canons in which the river has its source, and there 
we find large boulders in the course of the stream. 
These are constantly being torn loose by the stream 
from the rocky sides, and sometimes they fall from 
the overhanging cliffs and thus reach the river bed, 
when they are carried along grinding and being 
ground as they go. Here then is the source of our 
pebbles; these boulders are the rocks from which the 
smaller stones are made. This is an answer to 
the first of the questions which we asked of the 
pebbles — as to how they came to the place at which 
we found them. 



192 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Not all stones wear away with the same rapidity 
as they descend the stream; the harder kinds will 
resist the grinding process much longer than their 
softer companions. For instance; if two boulders, 
say of equal size, but one of hard, siliceous rock, and 
the other of the softer calcareous kind, should chance 
to fall into the stream, together; after a short time, 
the softer rock would most probably be so worn and 
reduced in size, that we could scarcely recognize the 
outlines of the original; whereas, the harder, siliceous 
mass, would scarcely have changed its form at all. 

And thus we obtain the answers to two of our 
questions in one — as to why pebbles are of so many 
sizes and shapes, and what gave them their polished 
faces. 

The author was very much interested and in- 
structed on an occasion a few years ago by a short 
visit to a large establishment in the East, in which 
boys' marbles are made. The manner in which the 
operation is carried on is illustrative of pebble- 
making and polishing, under the best conditions. 
These "marbles" are made of many different kinds 
of stone, the best being of marble and agate and the 
common ones of limestone and slate. But one kind 
of material is used at any one time, however. The 
stone is first broken into little blocks, all of about 
equal size; these are then placed in a large cylinder 
or drum, which is made to revolve by steam power, 
and through which a stream of water is kept flowing. 
As the revolution continues, the bits of stone within 
the cylinder are thrown against one another in much 



PEBBLES. 193 

the same way as pebbles are on the bed of a running 
river. There is, however, one great difference between 
the two processes. The drum turns completely 
round, and in consequence the blocks of stone are 
jostled and rubbed on all sides equally, and thus they 
become shaped into almost perfect spheres; whereas 
in the corresponding operation on the bed of the 
stream the grinding is far less uniform, the stones 
being moved by the force of the stream alone. And 
furthermore, as the river stones are of widely varying 
size, and of different degrees of hardness, there is 
little likelihood that perfect spheres will be produced. 
If the stones be longer in one direction than another, 
and especially if somewhat flattened, the running 
stream will rather slide than roll them, and thus the 
irregularity would be increased. 

Pebbles are also formed in great numbers on the 
sea-shore. Those readers who have visited the ocean 
edge have, without doubt, noticed the long, sweeping- 
waves rolling up the beach and receding, only to 
return and again retreat. The stones upon the 
beach are rolled and rubbed by this wave action with 
truly wonderful force. It has been found, from 
careful observation, that the beach moves to 
the depth of over two feet, and the grinding 
sound produced can be heard at a considerable dis- 
tance from the shore. An interesting calculation 
has been made by Prof. Shaler, on the distance 
traveled in this to and fro style by an ordinary sea- 
side stone during the day. He says "it travels in 
time of calm a little distance every time the wave 

14 



194 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

strikes, and as this is, say, six times a minute, the stone 
moves a few feet (we may average the distance at 
ten feet) in all weathers, they would thus travel 
between twelve and fifteen miles a day." 

But, it may be asked, where are the large rocks 
from which these sea-side pebbles are made? These 
are really detached portions of the coast, broken off 
by the action of the waves from the cliffs against 
which they strike; and being driven by the force of 
the water back and forth upon the beach, the grind- 
ing process goes on with great rapidity, the debris 
worn off in the process forming sand and mud. 
Under certain conditions, large deposits of pebbles and 
gravel are made with sand or mud, and the stones 
are bound together so as to form a solid mass of rock. 
Such a formation is called conglomerate, though, if 
the pebbles be rounded and smooth, the somewhat 
expressive name of "pudding-stone" is bestowed 
upon it. The cement that binds the pebbles or 
gravel together becomes as hard and durable as the 
stones themselves. Many of our local canons show 
extensive formations of conglomerate. 

Such is a little of that which the pebbles can tell 
us. Job, the great prophet of patience and of faith, 
once said, "stones shall speak;" and indeed they have 
done so, and are still ready to talk to those who are 
willing to hear and to learn. But they do not use 
our language any more than does the dog whining at 
his master's feet, or the bird singing upon its perch. 
We must learn to understand the tongue of the 
rocks and stones if we would know their wondrous 



SAND AND SANDSTONES. 1&5 

secrets; we must question them through the medium 
of steady and prayerful examination; they will 
answer more by looks than sounds it is true, and the 
mind must act as interpreter between their language 
and ours. 




CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

SAND AND SAND-STONES. 

t E HAVE already discovered how sand is 
formed ; it is by the breaking up and wear- 
ing away of certain kinds of rocks through 
the means of river currents and ocean 
waves. Let us gather a few grains of sand, and see 
if they differ in any other respect than that of size 
from the larger pebbles about which we have already 
spoken. Yes, there are many differences; these bits of 
sand have sharp edges in spite of all the wearing and 
bruising to which they have been subjected during 
the long period of their preparation; in hardness 
they compare favorably with the hardest of common 
pebbles. These tiny grains are altogether too small 
to allow scratching with a knife to ascertain their 
relative hardness; but we may reach the same 
result in another way. By rubbing a pinch of sand 
on a piece of glass, the glass will be easily cut and 
scratched, proving the hardness of the sand. Now, 
place some sand in a little strong vinegar or other 
acid, as we tested the bits of stone in a former 



196 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

experiment; there will be no bubbles of escaping gas 
to be seen. The liquid seems to have little or no 
effect upon the sand. We are justified in conclud- 
ing that sand grains are really broken and angular 
fragments of siliceous stone. Being so very hard 
these little grains do a great deal toward grinding 
larger stones when driven along b) r water or wind. 
This operation has been imitated by man to his own 
advantage in grinding and polishing various objects 
for ornament and use. The beautiful figures so much 
admired on ornamental glassware, are usually pro- 
duced by the cutting action of sand, which is driven 
through a small pipe by a blast of air or steam with 
very great force against the surface to be etched, 
producing the roughened, frosted appearance, which 
contrasts so strikingly with the smooth and unworn 
parts. * 

A similar operation on a stupendous scale may be 
observed in the case of desert sand-storms; and the 
remarkable effects of such action are visible in many 
parts of our territory. A simple current of air, though 
moving with the velocity of a hurricane, could have but 
very little effect upon the face of a rocky cliff against 
which it may strike; but if the wind bears sand 

* Prof. Dana tells us that the glass in the windows of 
houses at Cape Cod on the Atlantic coast is worn through 
by the beating of the wind-driven sand. Not only is glass 
ground and etched as described above, but also precious 
stones and even granite. "In this way," says the author- 
ity above quoted," the deep carvings of a granite frieze 
have been made in six hours, that would have required 
two months of work by hand." 



SAND AND SANDSTONES. 197 

upon its wings, each little grain strikes like a minia- 
ture bullet against the obstruction and thereon 
leaves its mark. All the softer parts of the rock will 
soon be worn away and the cliff presents before long a 
rough and weather-beaten appearance. In time the 
hardest rock will yield to the incessant battering of 
this wind-driven sand. Those of us who have ever 
traveled through the truly beautiful Clear Creek 
Canon, leading from Joseph City, Sevier Co., to 
Beaver, Utah, cannot fail to have beheld and admired 
the fantastic cliffs, which form the canon walls, and 
which owe their curious forms mostly to the action of 
sand-laden winds. This is but one instance among 
many of local interest; the cliffs about Richfield, 
Sevier Co. and indeed the hills throughout Iron, 
Kane, and Washington Counties of this Territory, 
all bear unmistakable evidence of their battle with 
the sand. 

In some places the sand is so fine that it is borne 
to very great distances, and there perhaps deposited 
in large bodies, called sand banks, or dunes. These 
are common in the neighborhood of sandy ocean 
beaches and in deserts. On the sea shore such dunes 
frequently attain a height of a hundred feet and an 
unbroken length of miles. On the coast of Norfolk, 
England, the sand drifts have advanced inland so as 
to completely bury farms and houses. The church 
spire of the little town of Eccles is about all that is 
left exposed to mark the spot of the buried burg. 

Many beautiful sand dunes may be seen in the 
desert regions of northern Arizona. In traveling 



198 FIRST BOOK OF1 NATURE. 

from the little town of Orderville, Utah, to Pipe 
Springs Fort — the one oasis in the arid wilderness 
beyond which lie the Buckskin Mountains — the ever 
shifting sand dunes form an impressive spectacle. 
The golden sand is piled up in a way no less beautiful 
than wonderful. Whenever the wind blows, more 
sand is brought to add to the enormous store, or 
some is taken from the banks to increase the deposit 
in other parts. 

Where great quantities of sand have been deposited 
by water, year after year, the pressure upon the 
lower layers becomes so great, as to solidify the loose 
material into a compact mass of rock. This is the 
sandstone so common in most parts of the earth, and 
so useful to man for building and other purposes.. 
Sandstones are of varying degrees of compactness, 
depending upon the intensity of pressure to which 
the sedimentary masses have been subjected, and to 
the presence or absence of heat during the process. 
Some are so friable as to be readily reduced to 
powder between the fingers, and others are so hard 
that they can be shaped only by saw and chisel. If 
the grains are not alone pressed together, but also 
cemented more or less perfectly through the aid of 
heat, so that the separate bits from which it was 
originally formed cannot be detected, even by the 
aid of the magnifying glass, we call such rock 
quart zite, and many siliceous stones of our streams 
and mountains are of this kind. 




MUD AND MUD-STONES. 199 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 

MUD AND MUD-STONES. 

OW let us turn our attention for a short time 
J&JJ to the state of ordinary mud, so common 
everywhere. According to the definition 
already given of the term "rock" in its 
widest sense, mud is a variety of rock, and forming 
as large a proportion of the surface foundation as it 
does, it is certainly of sufficient importance, to claim 
a few minutes of our study, during a life-time. 
Mud is oftentimes in so fine a condition, that it 
scarcely feels gritty, when rubbed between the 
fingers. It is, in fact, the smallest subdivision of 
rock, and is formed through the battering and wear- 
ing operation to which stones are subjected in the 
water-mill already described, and also by a rotting 
or decaying process of the rocks, which is constantly 
going on, upon and beneath the soil. Plants are 
continually dying in the soil, and the remains of 
their bodies, in undergoing decay, produce certain 
kinds of vegetable acids of a corrosive nature, 
which are easily dissolved by the water percolating 
through the soil. This acid liquid comes then in 
contact with rocks within the ground, and hastens 
the process of disintegration. 

By digging into the crust of the earth at any 
place, a floor of solid rock will be found underlying 
the more finely divided soil. The upper part of this 
rock foundation is generally somewhat soft and 



200 FIRST BOOK fOF NATURE. 

friable; it is in fact, partly decomposed, and in this 
coudition, has been named "rotten rock." Below 
this, the hard, solid mass is encountered. In many 
places the soil is found to be composed of the same 
material as the rock upon which it rests, though in a 
divided and an altered form; and we are safe in con- 
cluding that such soil was once a continuous part of 
the rock below. There is present in the atmosphere, 
under ordinary conditions, a definite amount each of 
watery vapor, and of carbon dioxide gas, which to- 
gether, exert a most powerful effect in disintegrating 
the rocky crust of the earth. 

It is no less instructive than interesting to con- 
template the stupendous labor that is often accom- 
plished by what might seem to us the weakest of 
Nature's forces. The action of frost for example, is 
a powerful means of breaking up the rocks. We 
have without doubt taken notice of the fact that in 
the act of freezing, water swells considerably, so that 
a piece of ice occupies more space than the water 
from which it was formed. This principle is at times 
rather unpleasantly demonstrated to us by the burst- 
ing of pitchers and bottles that had been left with 
water in them to freeze. As water percolates through 
the soil it enters the pores and crevices of the stones 
and rocks, and there by freezing expands with sur- 
prising force, and accomplishes the bursting asunder 
of the rocky masses on a mammoth scale. 

Vegetation on the surface of the soil does much to 
increase and assist this general disintegration. The 
first roots that are sent off by the growing plant are 



MUD AND MUD-STONES. 201 

as thin as the finest hairs; they can therefore easily 
make their way into the small cracks and crevices of 
the rocks; they are, however, constantly growing 
larger, and soon completely fill the spaces in the 
rocks, finally bursting apart the rocky walls. Growing 
roots have been known to separate in this way 
immense masses of stone; they act like stout 
wedges driven by giant hands. In cities, immense 
paving stones have been lifted and the foundations 
of colossal buildings have been disturbed through the 
growth of the roots of some large tree, which perhaps 
at first were no larger than hairs. By these means 
the rocks are broken to pieces, and prepared for the 
processes of finer division already described. And 
in such simple though effectual ways the stony cover- 
ing of the earth is reduced to the finest state, and 
thus forms the soil, upon which depends all the 
higher operations of life. 

Ordinary mud, though fine throughout when com- 
pared with sand or gravel, yet consists of particles 
of many different sizes. Put a bit of mud in a glass 
of water, then stir and set aside; the heavier and 
coarser particles are seen immediately settling to the 
bottom; but the finer bits remain suspended in the 
liquid for hours or even for days. In a manner 
similar to this the pebbles, sand, and mud gathered 
by rivers in their flow are carried and distributed; 
the heavier bits of stone being deposited first, while 
the fine mud is borne in all probability low down 
toward the mouth of the stream. Now let us take a 
wee bit of this mud, spread it out carefully upon a 



202 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

piece of glass, a saucer, a small dish or anything of 
the sort, and look at it through a pocket lens; we will 
then be able to discover clearly the bits of stone of 
which the mud consists. It is a complicated mix- 
ture however; there would be found almost all the 
kinds of stone thus far spoken of. Such mud forms 
a very large proportion of common soil, the rest 
consisting mostly of sand and the decayed parts of 
plants. A fertile soil is usually composed to the 
extent of one half of the entire mass of clay and mud 
grains. But much of the mud produced by the 
wear and decay of the rocks is carried by the rain 
water and by other means into the rivulets and rivers, 
in whose capacious bosoms it is borne onward per- 
haps for many miles, and is finally deposited as large 
mud flats in the neighboorhood of the river mouths, 
or on the bed of the ocean into which the larger 
rivers flow. As such sediment increases in depth 
year after year, the pressure upon the lower strata 
from the weight of the overling layers, becomes so 
great that their particles are forced together into a 
close and compact mass. Beside these effects, that of 
heat, which is so universally present in the deeper 
parts of the earth, must be considered. By this 
means the lowest layers of sediment may be partly 
softened and thus be brought into a more compact 
and solid state than ever. In this way are the mud- 
rocks formed; and of these many varieties exist, 
some of great practical value to man, such as the 
beautiful slates and cleavable shales from which our 
roofing plates and writing tablets are made. 



ABOUT LIMESTONES. 203 

The rain falling upon the land, then running off 
in tiny rills into the flowing streams, and carrying 
the finer parts of the soil along; and the rivers 
moving ceaselessly onward, laden with sediment, 
toward their destination in lake or sea, thus lay the 
foundation of future quarries, from which will come 
the material for architectural wonders in beautiful 
residences, stately churches and holy temples. 



CHAPTER XL. 

ABOUT LIMESTONES. 

JIMESTONE is a general name given to all those 
rocks of the earth that contain lime; the lime 
y$ is prepared by heating such rocks in a kiln by a 
process already described. They all belong to 
the calcareous family of rocks, and yield large quan- 
tities of carbon-dioxide gas when acted upon by 
acids or subjected to great heat. It is estimated that 
not less than one-sixth part of the surface rocks of 
the earth consists of limestone. This material exists 
in almost all shades of color, the purest kinds being 
nearly or quite white; but the largest deposits of 
limestone, such as form in many places the bulk of 
the mountain masses, are of a deep blue color; and 
are called "blue limestone." 

To the unaided vision, a piece of limestone appears 
to be composed of fine particles pressed together 
in the manner of the mud-rocks and sandstones 



204 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

spoken of before; though sometimes the outlines of 
mollusk shells and other animal remains may be 
discerned. When highly magnified, however, a bit 
of limestone is seen to have a wonderfully compli- 
cated and interesting structure. There we see the 
outlines of beautiful shells, some oval, others circu- 
lar, and of many other symmetrical forms, with 
curious markings like ornamental lines upon their 
surfaces, others looking like radiating stars; in fact 
there appears a never ending variety of shape, yet 
all symmetrical and beautiful. Limestone really 
consists of the consolidated remains of these minute 
organisms, which existed in unnumbered variety in 
bygone times. These wonderful little rock-builders are 
still in active work in many parts of the world, 
especially in the warm seas. 

In the clear and salt waters of the tropical oceans, 
corals are found in almost endless profusion. The 
hard and solid substance which we ordinarily call 
"coral," consists really of the shells in which the 
coral animals lived. These tiny creatures have the 
power of separating from the sea-water in which 
they live, the hard materials contained therein, and 
of using the same in the formation of their calcare- 
ous homes. Perhaps this process is in great part 
analogous to that taking place within the human 
body, by which certain parts of the food are digested 
to form hard bones and teeth. Coral animals belong 
to the class of polyps— & word meaning "many- 
footed," and given as a name to these little beings 
because when in active life, each expands around the 



ABOUT LIMESTONES. 205 

entrance to its tiny home, a number of radiating arms 
or tentacles, usually called feet. 

These polyps live together in very great num- 
bers, each building its little house or shell in contact 
with others, and so in time vast masses of solid 
coralline matter are formed. As the animals die, 
year after year, others build upon the remains, and 
thus the process continues uninterruptedly. 

These little beings demonstrate by the results of 
their ceaseless growth what may be accomplished 
through concerted action of many, though each 
individual performs but an inconsiderable part. 

The greater part of the Florida peninsula con- 
sists of the remains of coral polyps. A very care- 
ful examination of that region has convinced scien- 
tific men that at one time Florida was not more than 
half its present length from north to south; and that 
it has grown through the agency of corals, by 
which in fact, it has extended over two hundred 
miles toward the south; and the area of land thus 
added to the continent is more than twenty thousand 
square miles. Beside corals, there are many other 
animals that form for themselves such calcareous 
shells. 

Chalk (see figure 23), if examined with the mi- 
croscope, is found to consist almost entirely of the 
skeletons of foraminifers — a word of Latin origin 
meaning really porous, and given to these tiny 
inhabitants of the water from the fact that the shells 
of most of them are perforated by a great number of 
passages or holes. 



206 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

Many larger animals also employ this power of 
extracting the calcareous matter from the water to 
form- their coverings. To such a class belong the 
oyster, clam and the snail, and all the beautiful 
shells so much admired, belonging to the order of 
mollusks. B}' the action of moving water these 
calcareous formations are frequently broken to 
pieces and ground to powder, by which the larger 
shells of course lose their original form, though their 
mutilated remains may frequently be recognized in 
the rocks formed from such material; but the small- 
est of shells above described are protected from de- 
struction by their very fineness. 

In the dust that may be scraped from a glazed 
card, and in the chalk mark left upon the blackboard 
may be seen such tiny monuments of past life. Some 
limestones are much more solid and compact than 
others, having been subjected to greater degrees of 
pressure and of heat in the process of formation. 
These conditions may so affect the rock that it 
becomes of a crystalline nature, which form is known 
and prized by us as marble. Of this beautiful material 
there are again many, very many varieties; of almost 
every known shade of color from the purest white to 
the deepest tint of jet. The whitest marble comes 
from Carrara and the island of Paros, from the latter 
source it has been named Parian marble, and it is 
highly prized for statuary purposes. Small quantities 
of foreign matters mingled with the rock give to it 
a mottled or clouded appearance. Man has great 
reason to prize so beautiful and valuable a stone, 



ABOUT LIMESTONES. 207 

fitted as it is for so many purposes in architecture 
and art.* 

Many of the mountain ranges of the globe, the 
Appenines and the Corderillas, part of the Rocky 
Mountain system, and the historical Cliffs of Dover, 
are built of the calcareous remains of animal life. 
Years, perhaps centuries ago, these tiny architects 
reared their small, though beautiful dwellings; and 
proud man is glad to erect his stately edifices from 
the remains of their worn-out homes. 

The massive limestone, marbles and chalk already 
named, are the most widely distributed of all the 
calcareous rock; but beside these there are many 
others. A semi-transparent and crystallized variety 
is called calcite, and the purest kind, which is trans- 
parent and exists in regular crystals, has received 

* Ruskin has written in the following expressive way: 
"What are marbles made for? Over the greatest part of 
the surface of the earth we find that the rock has been prov- 
identially distributed in a manner particularly pointing it 
out as intended for the service of man. It is exactly of 
the consistence which is best adapted for sculpture and 
architecture. It is neither hard nor brittle, nor flaky, nor 
splintery, but uniform and delicately, yet not ignobly soft 
— exactly soft enough to allow the sculptor to work it 
without force, and trace on it the finest lines of finished 
form; yet it is so hard as never to betray the touch or 
moulder away beneath the steel; and so admirably crys- 
tallized and of such permanent elements, that no rains 
dissolve it, no time changes it, no atmosphere decomposes 
it; once shaped, it is shaped for ever, unless subjected to 
actual violence or attrition. This rock, then, is prepared 
by Nature for the sculptor and architect, as paper is by the 
manufacturer for the artist; nay, with greater care and 
more perfect adaptation." 



208 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the name of Iceland spar. Then there is another 
variety called oolite t the name meaning "eggstone," 
and given to this member of the great limestone 
family, because composed of numerous rounded 
grains, like the eggs or roe of a fish. Good speci- 
mens of oolite are obtainable in several places 
in Utah; among the best being those found at the 
temple quarry, Manti. Marl is another calcareous 
rock, containing a considerable proportion of clay, 
and usually, also, whole or broken shells. Being in a 
loose and friable condition, it very readily yields to 
the disintegrating action of frost and rain, and so 
becomes rapidly incorporated with the soil, and is 
used extensively as a fertilizer. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

LIMESTONE MADE OVER. 

gj!& T will readily be believed from what has already 
j§£j been said regarding the formation of rock, that 
the materials of the earth's crust are under- 
going continual change. The solid canon walls, 
and the stony banks of streams are broken and 
loosened by the torrent in its fury, and the fragments 
are hurled onward and downward, being broken and 
powdered as they go till reduced to the state of sand 
and mud, which then are borne by the waters to 
quiet places, and there deposited to form new beds of 
rock. 



LIMESTONE MADE OVER. 209 

Much of the water that falls upon the earth as rain 
and snow, runs directly off the surface into the streams* 
but a portion of this water sinks into the soil, and 
there accomplishes a great labor before it comes to 
the light of day again. We all know that water 
dissolves many substances with great readiness. A 
little fine sugar or salt for instance if placed in a 
vessel of water very soon disappears from sight, and 
seems in fact to have been absolutely lost. This is 
not possible, however, and the characteristic taste of 
the water after the solid matter has disappeared 
shows that the sugar or salt is still there, though the 
solid particles are suspended or dispersed between 
those of the liquid. If we evaporate the water by 
heat or other means, the same amount of solid 
material as was originally added will be recovered. 
In such a way does the water falling naturally upon 
the rocks and soil or flowing over the same dissolve 
away the soluble matters and carry such along with 
it in its descent into the earth. All natural waters 
contain in solution more or less of solid material, 
derived from the soil and the rocks as here described. 
Look for an example on the inner surface of a much 
used fire-kettle or steam boiler; a hard material, 
looking not unlike stone is found there; this was 
without doubt present in the water before boiling, 
and has been left behind as the liquid evaporated. 

Pure water is able to dissolve limestone to a very 
small extent only, but water containing carbon- 
dioxide gas, is a ready solvent of all kinds of calcare- 
ous material. This carbon-dioxide is known to be 

15 



210 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

present at all times in the atmosphere, and it is set 
free within the earth wherever calcareous rocks un- 
dergo decomposition, and by other means, so that 
natural water contains a considerable proportion of 
this gas. Such water, then, dissolves the limestone 
with which it comes in contact; and as it comes to the 
surface after its long subterranean journey in the form 
of springs, it is frequently so heavily charged with cal- 
careous matter, that as the carbon dioxide gas escapes 
into the air it can no longer retain the solid material 
in solution, and consequently deposits it around the 
mouth of the spring, forming oftentimes a curb about 
itself or even a large mound. This is a very common 
phenomenon about the carbonated springs so deserv- 
edly famous in this region; truly beautiful examples 
are found at Soda Springs, Idaho, and in the won- 
derful water-pots at Midway, Utah. The solid 
matter in such waters as these will be deposited on 
any object placed in the spring. A bunch of grapes 
kept immersed for some time will be completely 
covered with a layer of stony matter; before long, 
however, the grapes themselves decay, leaving the 
original plump and beautiful form represented in the 
stony casing. Flowers, pine cones, baskets, expanded 
fans, and objects of such a kind are frequently sub- 
jected to the incrusting process, by visitors to such 
springs, and carried away as instructive mementoes 
of this action of water.* 

* The process above described is not an example of pet- 
rifaction, in which the particles of any body are replaced 
as fast as they decay by solid matter dissolved in the water; 



LIMESTONE MADE OVER, 211 

It frequently happens that water in seeking a 
course through the rocks and soil, washes out for 
itself wide passages and enormous caverns, often- 
times at very great distances below the surface. 
Such caves are common in limestone formations and 
prove most interesting and instructive occurrences. 
Imagine a cavern of this kind existing in the earth, 
and water trickling in through the sides, having in 
solution much solid matter which it has dissolved in 
its course. If this be of a calcareous nature, it 
will be deposited on the inside of the cavern, form- 
ing a lining and ceiling to the underground room, 
often of the purest white. A drop of water oozing 
through the ceiling would leave a part of its solid 
matter there, then falling to the floor would evapor- 
ate and so deposit the rest; and thus in time pen- 
dant rods of calcareous matter called stalactite*, are 
formed on the ceiling and upright pillars known as 
stalagmites on the floor. The water dripping from 
the point of a hanging stalactite above, would fall 
of course in a straight line to the spot directly 
below, and there make its calcareous contribution to 
the growing stalagmite so that the stalactites and 
stalagmites form in pairs, point to point. Finally 
they touch, then of course a column exists from ceil- 
ing to floor, down which the water runs instead of 
dripping and splashing as before; it evaporating as 
it flows, and leaves its dissolved solids year by year 



it is merely an incrusting or covering of the object which 
is immersed with a solid layer; the particles of the body 
itself remaining unchanged in other respects. 



212 FIRST! BOOK OF NATURE. 

to increase the size of the pillar. But few spectacles 
can be imagined that surpass in impressive brilliancy 
the hangings and the decorations of such a subter- 
ranean apartment; what architect can compete with 
water in its quiet but effective style of building! 
Within these rocky recesses of the earth, water has 
erected its stately pillars, reaching from paved floors 
to frescoed ceiling, of wondrous beauty; oftentimes 
these have formed a long succession of chambers, 
with majestic archways leading from one to the other, 
passages below stupendous architraves, and corridors, 
the entrances to which lie through colossal gateways 
of dazzling purity. The walls and roofs and floors all 
glisten in the light of the torch-fires as if studded 
with diamonds and sapphires — such formations are 
Nature's palaces. 

Several of these interesting caverns exist in Utah 
and surrounding regions; there are the Formation 
Caves at Soda Springs, Idaho, the Crystal Grotto near 
the Mammoth Mine in the Tintic Mining District 
and the caverns connected with the Cave Mine and 
Pace Mine in southern Utah, all of great beauty, 
though at present considerably marred and defaced, 
through the spirit of vandalism displayed by visitors 
to these beautiful places. 

Very large and wonderful caves exist in Tenuessee, 
of which the Nicojack Cave is the best known; in 
Virginia are the celebrated Luray Caverns; but by 
far the most extensive region of caves yet discovered 
in the United States, exists in Kentucky; in which 
State there is a district of country nearly eight 



LIMESTONE MADE OVER. 213 

thousand square miles in area, the surface of which 
is the ceiling to an almost continuous series of sub- 
terranean caves. Of these, the deservedly famous 
Mammoth Cave is the most important. It is so 
extensive that several days would be required to 
explore its intricate passages and capacious chambers. 
The entrance to the wonderful formation is through 
a natural archway, having a span of seventy feet. 
The main cavern within varies from forty to three 
hundred feet in width, and from thirty-five to a 
hundred and twenty-five feet in height, and is 
divided by crystal walls into several large rooms, to 
most of which expressive names have been given, as 
"Rotunda," "Star Chamber," and the like. At a 
place within the cave, situated about a mile under- 
ground, thirteen little cottages have been built, in 
which visiting tourists and invalids used to pass their 
leisure time; but these houses have now fallen into 
disuse to a very great extent. The combined length 
of all the accessible avenues is about one hundred 
and fifty miles. The walls in many of the rooms 
and passages are ornamented with stalactitic tapestry, 
of the most imposing kind, displaying an almost 
endless variety of color, and a radiant beauty beyond 
description. 

In the depths of these dark recesses large streams 
of water flow with great velocity and force toward 
their hidden destinations, and along their course 
they frequently leap from one level to another, 
forming grand cascades of several hundred feet fall. 
Within these caverns there have been found several 



214 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

distinct forms of animal life; twenty-eight species 
have been already described as truly subterranean, 
beside several others which are regarded as visitors 
from the outside. A peculiarity of all animals 
native to those dark regions is that they are without 
eyes, — not even a rudimentary apparatus for vision 
exists. In this strange circumstance we are brought 
again face to face with another forcible declaration of 
Nature's purposes —that the Creator never brings 
into existence a useless organ nor a superfluous form 
of any kind. Eyes would have been of no practical 
use in places such as these, where the light of day 
cau never penetrate; and in consequence, visual 
organs have been withheld, and by the same Omnis- 
cient power other senses of these animals, especially 
that of touch, have been wonderfully strengthened. 
There is a blind fish native to those dark streams, 
possessing a most sensitive power of touch in the 
parts of the head and face; there is too a wingless 
grasshopper, with its antennae so excessively long 
and of such delicate power, that we may with good 
reason think this high development of the sense of 
touch was intended by the Creative mind to be in 
a degree a recompense for the absence of vision. 

In some parts of Europe very large caves have 
been found containing vast quantities of bones, many 
of which belonged to animals not now living on 
the earth. Such caverns were doubtlessly used by 
the savage beasts of that day as dens and retreats, 
into which they dragged the animals upon which 
they fed, and when they themselves died their own 



ROCKS FORMED BY HEAT. 215 

bones were added to those of their victims, thus 
preserving these relics of extinct animals, without 
which science to-day would embrace but scanty 
knowledge of those curious creatures. Many of 
such caves have been used in the past by the partly 
civilized races of men as burial places for their dead. 
Within these vaults, explorers often find human 
skeletons with various ornaments, weapons, and uten- 
sils which were buried with the bodies, apparently 
according to a custom similar to that now practiced 
by certain tribes of Indians and others. 




CHAPTER XLII. 

ROCKS FORMED BY HEAT. 

l^ LLthe . r ° ck formations thus far studied have 
been in some way associated with the action 
of water; pudding-stones, sandstones, clay- 
stones, slates, and calcareous deposits are 
all indeed sedimentary in their origin. Few of 
us have traveled far in this Territory without notic- 
ing a number of rocks differing much in general ap- 
pearance from any thus far described. Some rocks 
are found containing numerous small holes or 
bubbles, looking very much as if produced by the 
escape of gas or steam from within, and in all their 
characteristics they appear as we think rocks would 
that had cooled from an originally heated and 
molten state. They are usually called igneous rocks, 



216 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

for this reason. The name signifies literally that 
they have been produced by fire. To this class 
belongs the lava which is found within the craters of 
volcanoes in action, and poured out from their 
heated tops in molten streams. A volcano may be 
defined as an opening in the crust of the earth, 
through which rock matters of various kinds are 
ejected, always heated and usually in a liquid con- 
dition, associated also with various gases and vapors. 
The intense igneous action taking place within the 
earth often causes a swelling of the surface, forming 
a sort of earth-bubble, which permits the escape of 
the contained vapor and molten matter. This re- 
sults, of course, in the formation of a conical 
mound, the elevation of which is usually increased 
by deposits of solid materials ejected from within. 
Some volcanoes are in fact among the loftiest moun- 
tains of our globe. 

The cause of the great heat existing within the 
earth, and especially marked in volcanic districts, 
has given rise to much speculation and great diver- 
sity of opinion. But putting all theory and supposi- 
tion as to the cause aside, we may accept as a fact 
the statement, that the interior of the earth is in a 
condition of great heat, sufficiently intense in some 
places to completely fuse the rocks and to eject the 
fluid material as lava upon the surface. At the time 
of an eruption, large quantities of rock dust, some- 
times called ashes, are thrown out. The lava runs 
from the crater as a stream, until by cooling it 
becomes viscid and finally too thick to flow. The 



ROCKS FORMED BY HEAT. 217 

outer parts of a lava stream will often become 
perfectly cool and hard, while the inner portions 
remain heated and in a liquid state perhaps for 
months. A hardened lava stream may sometimes be 
traced continuously for many miles; and of this Utah 
furnishes many examples, though the volcanoes from 
which such streams sprang are now no longer active, 
and are therefore said to be extinct. Several 
extensive lava "flows" have to be crossed in traveling 
through Beaver and Millard Counties, and wonder- 
fully distinct streams exist about St. George in the 
south. Dameron Valley, or Diamond Valley as the 
place is sometimes called, lying between the little 
town of Pine Valley and St. George, contains a 
number of such streams, and also several interesting 
volcanic cones, from which the lava courses lead. It- 
is a rather laborious undertaking, but one well 
worth the effort, to climb the rugged side of such a 
blackened mountain. On reaching the top we dis- 
cover a cup-shaped hollow, into which we can with 
care descend. This is the crater, from which issued 
the vast quantities of lava now to be seen extending 
in all directions. The floor of the crater is formed 
by the hardened lava which remained after the last 
eruption. 

Such volcanic forces, though mighty and even 
terrible in their operation and effects, are necessary 
to the preservation of the proper condition on the 
earth. Through these natural vents the pent-up 
gases and expansive vapors from within the earth, 
together with the molten "matters resulting from the 



218 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

intense heat, find their outlets. Without volcanic 
discharges we have all reason to believe greater and 
more destructive effects would be produced from 
violent earthquakes and other intense convulsions of 
a kindred order. Again, volcanoes belch forth large 
quantities of carbon-dioxide gas, which, though fatal 
to human beings and animals in the immediate 
neighborhood, is still essential to the support of plant 
life upon the earth. Even the fiercest of volcanic 
fires, aud the maddest fury of igneous forces, serve a 
purpose tending toward the general good. 
rocky veins. 
Most of us, perhaps, have noticed pebbles and 
other stones having streaks of a light color running 
through them. These light-colored seams are called 
"veins," and have been formed in a most interesting 
way, which we are capable of discovering and, to a 
degree at least, understanding, by remembering the 
admirable and effective way in which the water 
excavates large caverns and passages within the 
ground. We have seen that the sand, mud and 
calcareous powder produced by the grinding of stones 
in the river channel, are deposited by the water in 
the form of stratified sediment, which eventually 
hardens into rock. As it dries and hardens, it 
shrinks, and oftentimes cracks, leaving many gaping 
fissures in the rock. Look at any mud flat from 
which the water has receded, and upon which the 
drying effect of the sun's heat has been felt — the 
cracks there to be seen will illustrate all that has 
been said. 



ROCKS FORMED BY HEAT. 219 

By volcanic disturbances, earthquakes, and similar 
violent forces, the earth's crust is sometimes moved 
over great areas, producing many a rent and fissure 
in the rocks. Such cracks and fissures, whether large 
or small, when re-filled, are called veins. If the 
rock, n which such rents are formed, is soluble in 
water, or if soluble rocks exist in the neighborhood, 
the water in percolating through will dissolve much 
solid matter, and deposit the same in the vein- 
fissure; just as it deposits its load of dissolved ma- 
terial on the walls of subterranean caverns. Such a 
tiny vein as we see in an ordinary pebble, may, in 
fact, be regarded as a miniature cave, into which the 
percolating water has brought so much solid matter 
as to entirely fill the space. This is one of Nature's 
means of healing the wounds and rents that may be 
produced through violence in the rocky tissues of the 
earth; just as a cut in the flesh is naturally healed 
by a liquid serum oozing from the sides of the wound, 
finally filling the cavity and uniting the parts. 
Under certain circumstances this dissolved material 
is deposited in the stony fissure in the form of 
beautiful crystals extending from one wall toward 
the other, till perhaps they meet, and so accomplish 
the joining. In such cases they look remarkably 
like rocky stitches put in to sew up the rent and 
hold the parts in proper place. 

Vein fissures are also formed in other ways. Molten 
material from below may be forced by volcanic dis- 
turbances into the rocks above, completely filling all 
such cracks and fissures, and opening many others by 



2*20 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the violence of its injection which it fills at the same 
time. Whether any particular vein was filled by 
matter in solution or by molten material may be 
determined by examining the nature of the filling 
and the condition of the rock bordering the vein. 
Calcareous crystals for instance could not be formed 
from a molten mass; because calcite undergoes ready 
decomposition by heat. If the rock on either side 
close to the vein is in no way different from that at 
a considerable distance from the vein, we may con- 
clude that the fissure has been filled by infiltration 
and not by the injection of igneous matter, as in 
such case the vein walls would doubtlessly have 
suffered change — chalk or limestone would in all 
probability have changed to marble; and clay would 
have become slate under the influence of the heat. 

The vein matter in large fissures is frequently im- 
pregnated with metallic substances or their com 
pounds, brought there in all probability by heated 
water in most cases rising from below. Such a 
mixture is called "ore;" and whenever a vein of 
this kind reveals itself by any surface indication, 
it is eagerly explored and worked for the sake 
of the rich treasures that it contains, so do we 
obtain our lead, and tin, copper, iron, silver and 
gold, without which the present state of civiliza- 
tion would be materially changed. Among such 
veins, only those that afford some indications 
of their presence at the surface are available, and 
these may be indeed very few compared with the 
unknown and hidden treasures of the ground. Un- 



A TALK ABOUT COAL. 221 

told wealth lies concealed within the stony bosoms 
of our hills, as to the locations of which, however, 
nothing yet has been learned. At present, man 
labors blindly in his search for mineral riches; he 
may yet be taught the secret combination of the 
rock-bound safe within whose deep recesses these 
treasures lie secure. 




CHAPTER XLIII. 

A TALK ABOUT COAL. 

g!|S|rjRANY of our readers have heard or read or 
fcJJ® perhaps they have thought for themselves 
about the fact that coal is formed from 
plants. Yet it appears truly remarkable 
that any vegetable production should be dug from 
the earth as rocks and ores are, or that such should 
be called, in any sense, a mineral. Proof of the 
vegetable origin of coal are simple but strong. Re- 
mains of plant life, such as the leaves, twigs, and 
trunks of trees, flowers, fruits and seeds are all found 
imbedded in the clay and rocky layers lying above 
and below the coal deposits, and sometimes within 
the coal itself. This is especially true of the anthra- 
cite coal seams in which the original structure has 
not been so completely obliterated. The author has 
had the pleasure on several occasions of visit- 
ing some of the celebrated Pennsylvania coal 
mines. He was fortunate enough to find while 



222 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



there, several pieces of slate and coal matter, con- 
taining most perfect impressious of ferns and other 
plants, pieces of gigantic rushes, fragments of bark 
showing intricate and complicated markings upon 
the surface, a number of cone-like fruits produced 
without doubt by plants closely allied to the pines, 
and many other evidences of vegetable origin. 



& Mm 



w 








Fig. 31.— Fossil Fern in Coal Slate. 

A picture of a fern leaf from such a source is 
given in figure 31; every fibre and veinlet is clear 
and distinct; so perfectly are the details preserved 
that the nature of the plant is as readily distinguish- 
able as are the living ferns of this day. A close 
examination of the coal itself results in farther 
proof of the same fact. It was said in speaking 
of the structure of plant stems that the micro- 



A TALK ABOUT COAL. 223 

scope revealed a number of ducts and vessels which 
bore marks upon their surface of a peculiar and 
characteristic kind. Similar vessels marked after 
the pattern of the vegetable fabric, are found in all 
coal, even the hardest stone-coal. The ash remaining 
after the coal has been burned, shows to the skillful 
microscopist the same characteristic structure. 

Another argument, urging strongly an unqualified 
belief in the vegetable nature of coal, is that men 
have succeeded in manufacturing an artificial coal 
from saw dust and other finely divided vegetable 
matter, by placing the same under great pressure 
and subjecting it at the same time to heat. If we 
take the trouble to dig and examine the soil to a 
depth of several yards in any marsh or swampy 
place, we will find an interesting gradation as we 
descend. Near the surface the roots of growing 
grasses, rushes and other plants form a kind of mat, 
which entangles the soil, but each root fibre can be 
clearly and distinctly traced. Deeper in the ground 
we find roots and stems of plants not now living, and 
to all appearances buried by the sediment that has 
been carried by the streams into the marsh; they 
have all turned to a dark color and are brittle and 
friable. The soil entangled between the fibres of 
this deeper root-mat is of a black color too, being 
saturated with soluble organic matter derived from 
the half-decomposed plants. This mixture of soil 
and vegetable remains is called peat, and in many 
parts of the earth it is cut into blocks and dried, and 
so used as a fuel, plentiful, cheap and effective. 



224 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

The conditions favorable for the formation of peat, 
are a tolerably low temperature — without which the 
vegetable matter would entirely decay before it had 
been converted into peat — and a moist or humid 
state of the atmosphere. Where such conditions 
exist, peat is formed in immense bodies called peat- 
bogs. Large areas in France, Scotland and England 
are covered with peat; and one-tenth of Ireland is a 
bog. Prof. Dana has estimated the quantity of peat 
now existing in Massachusetts, at fifteen billions of 
cubic feet. If, after such a bog were formed, it were 
covered with water, either from the sinking of the 
land or the rising of the sea, heavy deposits of sedi- 
ment would be made above the peat, exerting a great 
pressure on the buried matter; and, as the sedi- 
mentary layers increased above, the internal heat of 
the earth would invade the lower strata, and thus 
still further contribute to the process of change. 

Such buried vegetable accumulations have been 
found in many places beneath layers of sedimentary 
rocks, converted into a kind of brown coal called 
lignite, in which may be traced all the proofs of 
vegetable structure. Other bogs have been discov- 
ered buried much deeper in the earth, and conse- 
quently under the effect of far greater pressure, and 
of higher heat; such influences would more com- 
pletely change the plant tissue, resulting in the form- 
ation of ordinary bituminous coal, so extensively 
used as a fuel. The dull and lustreless cannel coal 
is a variety of this kind, so rich in volatile matter 
that it burns like a torch, when lighted, producing a 



A TALK ABOUT COAL. 225 

large luminous flame; in fact it was used at one time 
to give light, and hence called "cannel," which is a 
corruption of the word "candle." Where the heat 
and pressure have been still more intense, the vege- 
table matter is changed to anthracite or stone-coal. 
This is a very hard kind of coal, with a metallic 
lustre, and will burn only if a good draft be supplied; 
then it evolves great heat, but no smoke or flame. 

To this interesting series of coal, another sub- 
stance, apparently not coal at all, should be added. 
This is the graphite, sometimes called plumbago or 
"black lead." It seems to be formed under the 
most intense effects of pressure and heat, and though 
it shows plain proof of its vegetable origin, has 
undergone such thorough change as to be entirely 
incombustible. It is used, in fact, as the material 
of crucibles, which are vessels for melting metals 
and other refractory substances. Graphite is also 
used in vast quantities in the manufacture of 
pencils. 

Such is a very short chapter from the family 
history of a lump of coal. We see in that black 
mass the preserved matter of trees and herbs which 
flourished many centuries ago, and which has been 
safely buried and locked within the rocky cases of 
the earth's treasure-house, where, protected from 
disintegration through air and water, it has been 
effectually hidden till the day of man's greatest 
need. In its burning, the coal liberates for 
our benefit and comfort, the light and heat that fell 
upon it in the distant day of its growth. Through 



226 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

the mystic processes of plant life, combustible matter 
has been separated from the air and soil and so 
preserved for use when most in need. 




CHAPTER XLIV. 

PICTURES IN THE ROCKS. 

JjfgUIE crust of the earth is to the thoughtful 
mind as a mighty book, bearing upon its stony 
leaves the history of the past. But the text 
of the volume is not entirely abstract nor 
wholly difficult to read. Upon its rocky pages are 
numerous pictures and illustrations, engraved with 
such perfection of form and detail that they are as 
useful to the earnest student as the originals would be. 
In many parts of Utah , such picture-bearing rocks 
are common. There are lying before me as I write 
a number of those stony tablets, each telling of a life 
long since ended. Here is a piece of sandstone 
which I broke from a mountain cliff near Orderville 
in Kaue county; there are upon it the pictures of two 
leaves — every line and fibre clearly shown. Surely 
the methods by which such delicate impressions 
could be preserved on so hard and enduring a sur- 
face, must be almost perfect. Here is another slab 
of stone; this is from the hills of Castle Valley; upon 
its surface are the impressions of hundreds of little 
mollusks, most of them varieties of snails, the grace- 
ful curves and the delicate tracery of their shells 



PICTURES IN THE ROCKS. 227 

more accurately shown than could be done by any 
feat of human sculpture or painting. 




Fig. 'A2.— Ammonites. 

Illustrations of a peculiar kind of mollusk called 
the ammonite are given in Figure 32. These fossils 
may be found in some parts of southern Utah. 
Ammonites varied from the size of a dime to that 
of a small wagon wheel. The shell of these animals 
was chambered: the last being the largest division and 
the one in which the animal lived. By forcing liquid 
into or out of the empty chambers, the ammonite 
could change its specific weight and thus rise or sink 
in the water at pleasure. 

Yonder are some pieces of stone from the temple 
quarry at Manti; curious markings appear upon 
them; these are imbedded scales from a strange race 
of fishes, which once tenanted the briny waters that 
rolled over these valleys. Here, too, is a block of 
stone from Wyoming; it appears to have had painted 
upon it, the pictures of three fishes lying in different 
positions. Let us look again; it is no painting, it 
is an imprint taken from the objects themselves, 
when the rock was in a soft and plastic state, and 
every depression and elevation of body is plainly 
delineated. 



228 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



A very peculiar animal called the crinoid has left 
its record in the shape of figure 33. In form it 

appeared more like a 
flower than an animal, 
but it is possessed of a 
true animal body, and 
a calcareous shell, 
though borne upon a 
long, jointed stalk. A 
detached section of this 
stalk is shown below the 
main body in the figure. 
The name "stone lily" 
has been given to some 
species of these pecu- 
liar creatures. The 
jointed stalks or stems 
before referred to are 
hollow, and are found 
in some parts in very 
great numbers. They 
are popularly called "St. Cuthbert's beads," and are 
sometimes strung and used as ornaments. Large 
rock masses are often formed almost entirely of the 
consolidated remains of these crinoids. 

Figure 34 represents such a piece; and specimens 
quite as beautiful as the one there shown may fre- 
quently be found upon our own hills. When pol- 
ished, such a stone has a beautiful appearance, and 
is highly prized as an ornamental material, under the 
name of encrinital limestone or marble. 




Fig. 33. 



-Crinoid or "Stone 
Lily." 



PICTURES IN THE ROCKS. 229 

Evidences of former life, found in the rocks of the 
earth, are called by the general name of fossils, 
from a word, meaning really "dug up;" and the way 




Fig. 34.— Encrinital Marble. 

in which these fossils are produced is not difficult to 
discover. Look at the muddy river hastening to- 
ward its resting place in the lake or sea; beside 
the particles of clay and sand, it bears in its 
course, leaves and fruit that have fallen from over- 
hanging trees; insects, by some mishap transferred 
from the aerial element to the watery; bodies of 
birds and small animals; all of these and many 
other objects are carried along, to be deposited, to- 
gether with the sediments in the still water below. 
The bodies of aquatic animals, birds and fishes, fall 
also to the bottom, and are in time buried beneath 
the accumulating deposits. As we have before dis- 
covered, these strata of sand and mud soon harden 
into rock; but in the meantime the perishable struc- 
tures buried there have undergone decay, if not 
destruction, though the impressions still exist in all 



230 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

their original detailed beauty, and the harder the 
rock becomes, the more enduring will be the record 
of the beings that once found a grave within its 
substance. Truly, Agassiz, the great naturalist, was 
wise when he wrote, "The crust of our earth is a 
great cemetery, where the rocks are tombstones, on 
which the buried dead have written their own epi- 
taphs!" 

Let us stroll along the sandy shore of a fresh-water 
lake; we cannot fail to observe the shells that lie 
scattered in such numbers all about. Very likely 
some of them will be found filled with sand. Now 
we will dig to some little depth in the sandy shore; 
other shells will be found also filled with sand, but 
the filliug is much more firmly and solidly pressed 
than was the case with the surface specimens. At a 
still greater depth we discover other shells, with the 
sand-filling forced into every curve and crevice of 
the inside, and as firm and solid as rock. What 
will become of them after the beach strata have 
hardened into sandstone? Though the shell-matter 
itself may disappear wholly or in part, the stony 
filling shows exactly how the shell was constructed 
within — we may rely upon the cast, for the shell 
itself was the mould, and the impression left by the 
imbedded shell is a representation of its outer shape. 

There lies before me what seems, when viewed 
from a distance, to be one of the vertebrae or spine- 
bones of some animal. Such it is, or rather was, for 
by a closer examination we find from its weight and 
other characteristics that the specimen is really stone 



PICTURES IN THE ROCKS. 231 

and not bone; it would be usually described as a 
'petrified bone. The word "petrified" means really 
"turned to stone;" but such a process as is implied 
in that expression is impossible. Bony matter does 
not consist of the same elements as stone, and one 
cannot be changed into the other. The explanation 
is this. The bone itself was buried beneath sedi- 
mentary material which underwent a change into 
solid rock. As the bone decayed, a cavity would be 
left within the rock; the percolating water, holding 
solid matter in solution, would find its way into the 
cavity and there deposit its solid contents, till the 
spaced was filled. But the decay of the bone took 
place slowly, particle after particle wore away and 
just so fast did the water leave rock matter to fill up 
the room; so that a petrifaction really is a body the 
particles of which have been replaced by stone as fast 
as they were separated by decay. Here is an inter- 
esting illustration of a partial petrifaction; it is a 
fossil tooth of a shark. It was found in the rocky 
ledges of South Carolina, aud belonged doubtlessly 
to one of those savage rovers of the sea that inhabited 
the waters of that locality. 

The rocks afford us other proofs of life than the 
actual impression of the decaying bodies. Water- 
fowl, stalking along the muddy banks of their native 
streams and lakes, leave thereon their footprints to be 
perpetuated in the future rock. Animals frequently 
come from great distances to drink at the rivers, and 
often leave their footmarks on the soft and yielding 
shores to testify, perhaps centuries afterward of their 



232 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



existence. The water-beetle and the worm make 
tracings on the mud as signatures to attest their 
being. 

Here is a piece of stone marked upon its surface 
by a number of indentations as if it had been bat- 
tered by flying missiles of some sort. Figure 35 is a 
good picture of it. 




Figure 35.— Rain drop marks in mud and in stone. 

To understand its story we must again try to 
interpret the past by the present. Let us pay a visit 
to a half dried mud flat, during or immediately 
after a sharp shower, the mud has a battered appear- 
ance, which we know is due to the falling rain 
drops, and such must have been the cause of the in- 
dentations in that piece of stone. Yes, there is an 
unmistakable account of a prehistoric storm, the 
depth of the impressions tells us of its force, and 



PICTURES IN THE ROCKS. 



233 



their shape indicates the direction from which the 
rain drops were driven, in that far distant time. 

In walking along the shore of a lake, we observe 
the little waves rolling and rippling upon the beach, 
and leaving marks upon the soft mud or sand. After 
the sediments have become transformed into solid 
rock, the ripple marks still remain plain and un- 
injured; a slab of stone bearing such undulating 
marks is shown in figure 36. 




Fig. 36.— Ripple Marks. 

Who of us can in any way doubt the reliability of 
such stony records? Upon our own mud banks and 
lake beaches similar impressions are being printed 
before our eyes. Surely these stones speak, and that 
too in a language plain and unmistakable; — the way- 
faring man can read their words. The rocks declare 
the history of the past to all who are willing to learn. 

Referring to such impressions in the rocks, Prof. 
Winchell has spoken as follows: "It is a solemn 



284 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

and impressive thought that the foot prints of 
these dumb and senseless creatures have been pre- 
served in all their perfection for thousands of ages, 
while so many of the works of man which date 
but a century back have been obliterated from 
the records of time. Kings and conquerors have 
marched at the head of armies across continents, 
and piled up aggregates of human suffering and 
experience to the heavens, and all the physical traces 
of their march have totally disappeared; but the 
solitary biped which stalked along the margin of a 
New England inlet before the human race was born, 
pressed footprints in the soft and shifting sand which 
the rising and sinking of the continent could not 
wipe out." 



CHAPTER XLV. 

CRYSTALS. 

BAKE a strong brine, by stirring fine salt in a 
vessel of water as long as any can be dis- 
solved. If this solution be carefully set 
aside so that it will not be shaken, or in any 
way agitated, after a time, some of the salt reappears 
in the solid state, but not as powder. Beautiful 
little blocks of salt form on the bottom and sides of 
the vessel, each of a regular cubical form. At first 
they are very small, but if left undisturbed, each 
increases in size, by the addition of layers of salt 




CRYSTALS. 235 

deposited on the tiny cube. Nearly all mineral 
substances, under certain conditions, tend to assume 
regular and symmetrical shapes, producing solids, 
bounded by straight lines, perfect angles, and plane, 
smooth surfaces; and such are called crystals. 

If a solution of alum in water had been used 
instead of brine, each crystal would have been in 
shape like a pair of pyramids, placed base to base, 
having eight sides all equal in size, and exactly alike 
in shape, if the crystallization had been uninter- 
rupted. Every mineral has its own characteristic 
shape in crystallizing. 

Man is unable to tell for what purpose, or by what 
laws substances are caused to assume such regular 
and symmetrical shapes; but this he does know, that 
from the earliest times these characteristic forms 
have been unchanged. Salt crystallizes in cubes; 
alum, as we have seen, in octahedra or eight side 
solids; quartz, which very frequently is found in 
crystal form, always as six-sided prisms, terminated 
by six-sided pyramids. 

Figure 37 is a picture of a beautiful cluster of 
quartz crystals found in the rocks about Lake 
Superior. Such crystals are transparent and pass 
under the common name of rock crystal. They 
are used as gems, and are also of value in cutting 
glass. Quartz crystals are sometimes found of a very 
delicate violet tint, and such are known as amethysts. 
Many brilliant crystals are regarded as the most 
valuable treasures which the earth affords; such are 
the sapphires, rubies, topazes and diamonds. The 



236 



FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 



elements of which these precious stones really con- 
sist, are simple and common, but in a crystalline 
form they are both beautiful and rare. 




Fig. 37. — Cluster of Quartz Crystals. 

In order that an}* substance may assume the 
crystalline shape, its particles must be free to move 
in any direction, according to the laws of attraction 
operating between them. 

For this reason, crystals form readily from a state 
of solution or of fusion. If a solid be dissolved, the 
particles are so separated and suspended within the 
solvent that they are free to obey any attractive force 
operating upon them; and so also if the solid be 
brought into a molten condition. But in a rigid 
solid, the particles are fixed and in consequence 
unable to move at all as they may be attracted. 



CRYSTALS. 237 

We have seen that crystals form within the caverns 
of the earth, and also in the vein-cracks or fissures 
through the rocks; these were probably pro- 
duced from a state of solution, — water, finding its 
way into the cavity with solid matter in solution, 
deposits the same in a symmetrical and regular 
shape. A pot of molten sulphur, cooled slowly, 
forms itself into a multitude of regular and beautiful 
crystals. 

Within the mountain-caverns and the subterranean 
caves, the laws of Nature have operated to produce 
this crystalline arrangement of matter. This con- 
dition seems to be one toward which all mineral 
solids tend, and short of which they are not in a state 
of rest or CDntentment. Any disturbance of the 
particles in a solid mineral body is attended by an 
approach toward crystallization. The constant shak- 
ing to which the large axles of railway carriages are 
subjected, in time produces a crystalline arrangement 
within the metal; the particles being disturbed by 
the constant jarring, settle at last into the condition 
of greatest equilibrium, which is the crystalline state. 
It is a universal tendency of matter to gather par- 
ticles of like kind together and place them in 
symmetrical order. In sandstone strata for instance, 
any particles of clay that may be present seem to be 
attracted toward one another till they form nodules 
or concretions of clay-stone in the midst of a sand- 
stone formation. 

Thus even among the ultimate particles of matter 
in their almost inconceivable minuteness, the laws of 



238 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

orderly arrangement are supreme and obedience 
thereto is the rule. The earth's crust tends toward 
a crystalline state; and in inanimate matter the 
crystal is the type of order and system — in a crystal 
every particle seems to be in its proper place, each 
holding by its unseen bonds of affinity the particles 
about it, and being in turn held and bound by them. 
The prism of quartz, the cube of salt and the foliated 
mica crystal, all declare by their very existence, the 
mathematical accuracy, according to which the forces 
of the universe operate and co-operate. In shaping 
the crystal of stone, no less than in determining the 
orbit of the world, the Creator teaches us by example 
"the principles of a perfect geometry." 




Part IV. 

The Heavens. 



"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firma- 
ment showeth His handiwork." 

"He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them 
all by their names." — Psalms. 

"Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who lias 
seen any or the least of these, has seen God moving in 
His majesty and power." — Doctrine and Covenants. 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

A GLANCE AT THE SKY. 

JiUR interesting survey of Nature in her beauty 
% need not end with the decline of day. By 
night also the manifold labors of our Omnipo- 
tent Father declare to the listening ear His 
majesty and might. Do but lift the eye toward 
heaven upon any clear night, and let it dwell upon 
that wondrous dome of crystal, whose bounds are 
only set by the powers of our own vision. Man can- 
not gaze upon such a spectacle without feeling within 
his soul those stirring emotions that are always 
prompted by the presence of the supremely grand. 
Wonderful, indeed, are the charms of mountain 



240 FIRST BOOK Of NATURE. 

and plain, river and lake, with their living miracles 
of trees and flowers, butterflies, birds and beasts; 
yet beyond all these, in the far-away depths of 
space we can discern the lustrous twinkling of other 
worlds, many of them larger and apparently more 
awe inspiring than our own. 

The thoughts aroused by the contemplation of 
such a scene of heavenly grandeur cannot be other- 
wise than elevatiug in their nature. 

"Oh! who can lift above one careless look 

While snch bright scenes as these his thoughts engage; 
And doubt, while reading from so fair a book, 

That God's own finger traced the glowing page; 
Or deem the radiance of yon blue expanse, 

With all its starry hosts — 
The careless works of chance? 5 

Our wonder and admiration, however, are some- 
what checked because of the frequency of the sight; 
for in our weakened natures, that which has not the 
air of novelty about it is apt to be considered com- 
mon-place and worthy of but little notice. Emerson 
has expressed a deep thought by his words: — "One 
might think the atmosphere was made transparent 
with this design, to give man in the heavenly bodies 
the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the 
streets of cities how great they are! If the stars 
should appear one night in a thousand years, how 
would men believe and adore; and preserve for many 
generations the remembrance of the city of God 
which had been shown. But every night come out 
these preachers of beauty and light the universe with 
their admonishing smile." 



A GLANCE AT THE SKY. 241 

In all ages, mankind has shown a greater tendency 
to contemplate the wonders of the sky, than to learn 
from the nearer and the simpler creations of earth. 
The heavenly bodies have even possessed for him a 
deep fascination; they seem to:be present, and yet are 
inaccessible; he yearns to know the nature and pur- 
pose of their being, and reaches out toward the 
realization of that desire, as the babe stretches its 
tiny hands to grasp the glittering moon. There is a 
mystery about these ornaments of the sky, and this 
feature is alone sufficient to inspire within us an 
attempt to fathom it. 

In the oldest times, men delighted to gaze up- 
ward upon the diamond vault, and strove to read 
the meaning of that emblazoned canopy. The occu- 
pations of the people in those times were mostly 
farming, stock raising, hunting, and other open air 
pursuits; and such would favor contemplative study 
of the stars. It seems perfectly natural that the 
shepherds of Chaldea, watching their flocks by night, 
should be among the first to recognize any unusual 
appearance or new arrival among the great family of 
visible worlds. And beside, the people had fewer 
books than have we to-day; they devoted less time 
to reading and more to thinking. The changes in 
the positions of the heavenly orbs marked the 
natural divisions of time; and for traveling, the 
sun and stars served as guides. There was a time 
when the lights of the sky were the only compasses, 
almanacs and clocks that man possessed; and so deep 
were his feelings of admiration and wonder toward 

17 



242 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

these heavenly bodies, that many early nations 
rendered to them an idolatrous homage. 

The science that deals with the sun, moon and 
stars — the heavenly bodies as these distant creations 
are called — is Astronomy. This word is in reality 
made up of two Greek terms and means the "science 
of the stars." This is indeed the oldest of all 
branches of science, so old in fact that history tells 
us but little of its origin, almost all famous nations 
of antiquity claiming to have been the founders of 
the science. The Chaldeans, who inhabited the city 
of Babylon, and the region round about along the 
banks of the Euphrates in Asia, also the Egyptians, 
the Chinese, the Hindoos and the Greeks, all pur- 
sued attentively the study of the stars in very early 
times. At the time of the surrender of Babylon to 
Alexander the Great, about three hundred years 
before the time of Christ, the inhabitants had 
among them records of astronomical observations 
extending back nearly to the supposed date of the 
tower of Babel. 

The earth seems to be situated in the centre of an 
azure dome, across which the sun appears to move in 
slow, majestic state, rising at mom in the east, 
reaching his highest point at noon, aud sinking at 
night below the horizon in the west. During the 
hours of darkness, however, the position of the sun 
with reference to any part of the earth, is so changed, 
that at the proper time, that luminary appears again 
in its usual place, in the eastern horizon; rising and 
beginning the march of another day. By night, 



A GLANCE AT TIJE SKY. 243 

however, the heavenly vault presents a much more 
diversified appearance. At regular periods the moon 
is seen following a course nearly the same as that of 
the sun, in her apparent journey from east to west; 
and on all cloudless nights, the multitudes of stars 
shine out in dazzling beauty as they move in trium- 
phal procession across the gleaming arch. 

A little careful thought and consideration will 
convince us that this seeming motion of the heavenly 
bodies day after day is in fact a delusion, depending 
upon the actual motion of the earth. It is doubt- 
less true that each of the heavenly bodies has a 
motion of its own; in some cases this can be readily 
perceived, in others less so on account of the ex- 
ceedingly great distances by which some stars are 
separated from the earth; but they do not really 
make a daily inarch about this little world of ours. 
We have perhaps noticed while riding in a swiftly 
moving railway carriage that we unconsciously trans- 
fer our own motion to the fixed objects along the line 
of travel. The trees and fences seem to dart hurriedly 
past while we imagine ourselves as remaining still. 
We know at once that this appearance is a false one; 
the posts and the trees are firmly planted in the 
ground while we are swiftly moving. So with the 
heavenly bodies about the earth; they appear in 
motion while the earth seems at rest. 

The earth is known to revolve once upon its axis 
in the space of a day; as a large ball or a bead may 
be twirled on a string. Imagine such a revolving 
ball, and upon its surface a tty; the insect would in 



244 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

all probability see the fixed objects about the ball as 
if they were in rapid motion. We conclude, there- 
fore, that the uniform and regular daily motiou of 
the sun, moon and stars about the earth, is but an 
apparent one produced by the rotation of the earth 
upon its axis. 

While speaking of the natural objects to be seen 
upon the earth — the animals, plants and rocks — we 
referred very frequently to the microscope, a wonder- 
ful instrument, by the aid of which, small objects 
are made to appear many times larger than they 
really are. The astronomer employs another iustru 
ment no less useful in its application, uor less won- 
derful in its results. This is called the telescope, 
and through its assistance distant objects appear 
much nearer and larger than ordinarily. By means 
of this instrument, the heavenly bodies have been 
carefully examined, and their appearances and 
position described. The telescope proves to us also 
that many of the faintest and seemingly smallest 
stars in the sky are in reality large and bright; 
though they are so far away from us that their light 
appears but dim to our unaided vision. By this 
magic glass countless numbers of stars, otherwise 
invisible, are brought within the range of vision; and 
beyond these again, unnumbered others are seen 
faint and dim even through the most powerful in- 
struments. 

Where ends the mighty hosts of worlds? This is 
not for man to know as yet; it is beyond the powers 
of his understanding; he can simply acknowledge 



THE SUN. 245 

with reverence and with praise the endless results of 
his great Father's labors. There are the Kokaubeam 
without number, yet all in orderly array, each with 
its path among the other bodies, allotted and de- 
creed; there is Olea in all her silvery splendor; and 
Skinehah, in his glorious majesty shedding beams of 
light and warmth upon many worlds. (See Pearl of 
Great Price, Book of Abraham.) 




CHAPTER XLVII. 

THE SUN. 

(St^HE sun is to us the most brilliant of all the 
Ws?£g lights of the heavens; so intense is its lustre 
that with the unprotected eye we cannot lnok 
upon it. If, however, we hold between the sun 
and our eye a piece of dark- colored or smoked glass, 
that body appears of a circular form, and to most 
people seems of about the same size as the disc of the 
full moon. Astronomers have measured the dimen- 
sions of the sun as accurately as their instruments 
and their skill would enable them to do; and as a 
result they tell us that. 1,245,000 earths like ours 
would be required to form a body equal in size to the 
sun. By careful measurement our earth is found to 
be about 8,000 miles in diameter; the sun is said to 
have a diameter of over 860,000 miles. It is only 
the enormous distance between the sun and the 



246 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

earth that gives to the former its apparently small 
size. The accepted distance of the sun from the 
earth according to present measurements is 92,880,000 
miles — a number far beyond the comprehension of 
any of us. Let us seek some more definite idea of 
these figures by comparison. 

If it were possible to make the trip between earth 
and sun by road, traveling at the rate of thirty miles 
per day, we would need eight thousand four hun- 
dred and eighty-two years in which to accomplish 
the journey; an express train traveling at the rate of 
thirty miles per hour without stops could traverse 
the distance in three hundred and fifty-three years, 
and the fare for the round trip (without return 
tickets), at the rate of four cents per mile, would be 
$4,715,200. The electric current, which carries a 
telegraphic message between any connected points 
upon the earth without appreciable time in transit, 
would require five minutes to accomplish the journey 
between us and the sun; and a cannon ball fired 
toward the sun, if it retained its initial velocity, and 
moved in a straight line, would be nearly ten years 
on the way. 

It should be remembered that these figures are 
based upon the most accurate measurements thus far 
made; but we have no conclusive proof, that the 
results are in every way correct and reliable. Of 
this, however, we may feel sure, that in speaking of 
distance, with reference to the sun, or any other 
of the heavenly bodies, measurement by miles, almost 
loses significance; those orbs are far, far away; the 



THE SIN. 247 

dimensions of space are boundless; to the universe 
of God there is no end. 

The rotation of the earth upon its axis turns each 
side alternately toward and away from the sun, 
giving rise thereby to the regular succession of day 
and night. 

That part which is directed toward the sun receives 
its light, and in consequence experiences day; while 
the opposite half of the earth being deprived of sun- 
light passes through its night. 

As seen from the earth, the sun appears to change 
its position in the heavens with the passing of the 
year; during our winter it is far toward the south, 
while during the summer months, it appears to 
traverse its daily course in a line almost over our 
heads. This appearance is also due to the changes 
of the earth as it moves in its orbit; and a conse- 
quence of such motion is the change of seasons. 

In Figure 38 the sun is represented near the 
centre of an elliptical orbit, around which the earth 
is shown in several different positions. It must be 
remembered in thus picturing the earth in its yearly 
journey that the directions of the earth's axis is not 
changed to any appreciable extent; the north pole 
being apparently directly under the Polar Star. On 
the 22nd of March and the 22nd of September of 
each year, the earth is in such position that the rays 
of the sun fall directly upon its equator. This is an 
imaginary line passing around the earth in an easterly 
and westerly direction, and situated at equal distance 
from the poles. The effect of this position is, that 



248 



FIRST BOOK OFI NATURE. 



at such times all parts of the|earth^ experience the 
same duration of light and darkness; the days and 
nights are then equal over the earth; and such 




O 






r. 



cc 

bfc 



occurrences are called the equinoxes or times of 
equal nights. On December 21, the earth reaches a 
position, shown in the figure, so that the sun shines 



THE SUN. 249 

more directly upon the southern hemisphere, giving 
to that half of the earth therefore its summer, while 
winter reigns upon the northern section. Six months 
later, on June 21, the earth has passed to such a 
position that the northern hemisphere receives the 
direct rays of the sun, and in consequence, experiences 
its summer; this time the southern half of the earth 
is passing of course through its winter season. 

In reality the sun does not occupy the exact cen- 
tre of the elliptical orbit along which the earth 
moves, and therefore the earth is nearer the sun at 
one time than at others. The earth reaches its point 
of greatest distance from the sun July 1, and this 
position is called its aphelion. On December 31, of 
each year, the earth is at its perihelion or least dis- 
tance from the sun. The hieroglyphic figures accom- 
panying the names of the months upon the diagram, 
are symbols of particular groups of stars, which 
appear close to the sun at those times. From the 
fact that the earth is in its perihelion at the time of 
the northern winter, and in aphelion during the 
northern summer, these seasons are much more 
moderate in our hemisphere than in the southern. 

To the inhabitants of the earth the sun is of more 
general interest than any other of the vast orbs of 
heaven. From the sun seem to come the light, and 
heat and chemical power without which life would 
soon cease to exist upon our globe. That great 
luminary has been placed in the firmament "to rule 
the day" and to make of this globe a fit habitation 
for plant and animal and man. 



2o0 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

As a result of careful measurement it is said that 
the amount of heat received by the earth from the 
sun during a year is sufficient "to boil an ocean of 
ice water covering the whole earth to a depth of 
eighty feet:" and the total heat radiated by the sun 
in that space of time is 2,300,000,000 times as great 
as that received by the earth. Prof. Proctor said "In 
each second the sun sends out as much heat as would 
be given out by the burning of 1 1 ,600,000,000,000,< K M I 
tons of coal." The noted astronomer, Sir John 
Herschel, calculated that a solid cylinder of ice 
forty-five miles in diameter and 200,000 miles long, 
if plunged into the sun, would be melted by the 
intense heat of that body, in one second of time. 

The light of the sun is no less surprisng in its 
degree. It is many times as intense as the brightest 
electric light and every other artificial light appears 
absolutely black when held before the sun. The 
sun radiates 600,000 times as much light as the full 
moon. 

Soon after the invention of the telescope, in the 
early part of the seventeenth century, dark spots 
were observed upon the sun. This discovery pro- 
duced a consternation among the superstitious people 
of that time; they had always learned to regard the 
sun as an emblem of purity and unsullied brilliancy. 
and the thought of blemishes upon its fair face was 
most repugnant to their prejudiced minds. It is 
now known that spots are usually present on the 
suu's surface, and sometimes of such a size as to be 
seen by the naked eye. These spots are often of 



THE MOON. 251 

enormous size: Shroeter measured one over 29,000 
miles in diameter; Sir John Herschel names one of 
50,000 miles diameter. The black appearance of the 
spots is due to the effect of contrast. As has been 
said, the brightest artificial light appears dark when 
projected upon the face of the sun, owing to the 
superior brilliancy of the latter; and so also do we 
suppose the spots to lack brightness; but in truth the 
blackest of them would be of insufferable brilliancy 
when compared with earthly lights. Many opinions 
have been advanced by scientific men as to the nature 
of the spots: some consider them merely clouds float- 
ing in the solar atmosphere and others regard them 
as rents in the enveloping layers of the sun, through 
which the darker nucleus below is revealed. Of 
their true nature, as indeed of the constitution of 
the sun, and the structure of the heavenly bodies in 
general we know but little. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 

THE MOON. 

SECOND in brilliancy among the great lights of 
the firmament is the Moon. Though appear- 
ing almost as large as the sun, it is in fact the 
smallest of the heavenly bodies ordinarily vis- 
Its comparatively short distance from us adds 
to its apparent size. By measurement, the moon is 
found to be only one-fiftieth as large as the earth. 



252 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

When near the horizon, the moon appears much 
larger than when high in the heavens toward the 
zenith, though in the latter position the moon is 
nearer the observer than when at the horizon by the 
semi-diameter of the earth. We may explain this 
illusion of distance as follows: When we perceive 
the moon apparently close to the surface of the 
earth, as when on the eastern or western horizon, 
we are more fully aware of its distance, and 
unconsciously correct our mental impressions as 
to its size, and conceive it to be much larger than it 
really is. 

The moon, too, is nearest to the earth of all the 
bodies in space; she is really the companion of the 
earth. In round numbers the moon's average dis- 
tance from us is placed at two hundred and forty 
thousand miles, which, though an enormous distance 
in comparison with any terrestrial measurement, is 
but very small when considered in connection with 
the figures denoting the distance of the sun or any 
other of the heavenly bodies. The moon moves 
around the earth in a manner somewhat similar to 
the earth's revolution about the sun; and in conse- 
quence, our satellite appears in widely varying posi- 
tions at different times. 

Figure 39 represents the earth as situated near the 
centre of the path of the moon, and the latter ap- 
pears in several different positions along its course. 
The upper part of the figure is illuminated, to indi- 
cate the direction of the sun, from which light falls 
both upon the earth and the moon, these being 



THE MOON. 



253 



dark, opaque bodies, capable of giving light only by 
reflecting the rays of the sun. The moon being 
approximately globular in shape, only one-half of its 
surface can be illuminated by the sun at any one 




Fig. 39.— Diagram of Moon's Orbit. 

time, and the portion that is turned away from the 
sun will be in darkness and night. In the figure, 
therefore, the upper half of the moon in each of its 
positions is shown as brightly illuminated. By the 



254 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

side of each representation of the moon along its 
orbit, is an illustration of its shape at such position 
as viewed from the earth. Thus, when the moon is 
between the earth and the sun, its illuminated part 
is turned away from us; this is called new moon; 
and at such time the disc is invisible to us; we 
speak of the moon as new after it has moved slightly 
forward in its orbit, so that a small portion of its 
illuminated half is visible in the form of a crescent. 
At the time of full moon our satellite is seen in 
the part of the heavens opposite to the sun; its whole 
illumined part is then turned toward the earth and a 
full disc is seen. When half way along its course from 
new to full moon, one-half of its lighted part, that is 
one-fourth of the whole surface is seen from the earth; 
this position is called first quarter. So also when 
the moon is half-way along its path from full 
to new moon, it is said to be in last quarter. As 
the figure indicates, while passing from new moon to 
full moon, the illuminated part visible from the 
earth grows larger; this is called the "waxing 
moon;" along the opposite half of its orbit the visible 
part grows smaller, producing the phenomenon of 
"waning moon." 

The moon accomplishes a revolution around the 
earth, moving from west to east, in about twenty- 
seven days; and therefore appears each day farther 
east than at the same time on the preceding day. 
This causes the moon to appear on the eastern 
horizon somewhat later each day; the daily retard- 
ation amounting to about fifty minutes. The moon 



THE MOON. 255 

turns upon its own axis in about the same time that 
it takes to revolve about the earth, and so shows but 
one side to the earth. The moon requires nearly a 
month in which to turn once upon its axis; this is 
therefore the length of the lunar day. The sun 
shines without intermission upon one part of the 
moon for nearly two weeks, and then sets, to remain 
absent for the same length of time. The extremes 
of heat and cold upon the lunar surface must be 
therefore very great. 

The peculiar markings so readily seen upon the 
face of the full moon have always excited the interest 
of even superficial observers. We remember perhaps 
our nursery stories about the "man in the moon;" 
though a strong imagination is required to picture 
any human form upon the moon's bright face. The 
telescope shows these markings to be due to numerous 
elevations and depressions upon the surface; there 
are mountains and valleys upon the moon as upon 
the earth; and the sides of many such inequalities 
are steep and precipitous. No one has yet succeeded, 
even by the assistance of the best telescopes, in dis- 
covering the 'presence of water upon the moon, and 
if water be entirely absent there can be no rain or 
snow, no clouds and no atmosphere of appreciable 
density. 

If there be observers on the moon, the earth must 
present to them a spectacle of indescribable gran- 
deur. When its illumined sides were visible, the 
earth would look like an enormous moon, having 
four times the diameter, and thirteen times the 



266 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

extent of surface which the full moon has to us. 
The earth would seem to assume all the phases which 
the moon presents to us. There would be ''full 
earth," and "new earth," and all intermediate 
shapes; but in an opposite order to that of the 
moon. Thus, when the moon is to us new, the 
earth would appear full, as seen from the moon, 
and so on. The effect of "earth-shine" upon the 
moon is easily seen, just after the time of new moon; 
the brilliant crescent then seems to embrace within 
its curve the feebly illuminated part then turned 
from the sun. This appearance is pleasantly spoken 
of as "the old moon in the new moon's arms;" and 
it is produced apparently by the earth-shine lighting 
up the lunar surface. The dark part of the moon is 
passing through its time of night, and the gloom is 
lightened by the light reflected from the surface of 
the earth. 

The earth would not seem to rise and set, how- 
ever, as seen from the moon; the same part of the 
moon being always turned toward the earth, the 
latter would appear always in the same quarter of 
the lunar sky. To an observer, near the middle of 
our side of the moon, the earth would seem always 
to be overhead; to one near the edge, the earth would 
seem to be on the horizon, from the farther side of 
the moon the earth would be of course entirely 
invisible. 

ECLIPSES. 

The movements of the earth and moon as already 
described explain fully the common phenomenon of 



ECLIPSES. 257 

eclipses. Eclipses of the sun are caused by the moou 
passiug in its orbit between the earth and the sun, 
so as to shut off the light of the latter, and cause 
darkness upon the earth, wherever the shadow of the 
moon falls. If the moon appears to cover the entire 
surface of the sun, a total eclipse results; if only a 
portion of the sun's disc be obscured, the effect is to 
produce a partial eclipse. A solar eclipse, as is seen 
from this explanation, can only occur when the moon 
and the sun are in the same quarter of the heavens; 
that is to say at new moon. Some disbelievers in 
the Bible have tried to explain the darkness that fell 
upon the earth at the time of the crucifixion of 
Christ as the result of an eclipse of the sun. This, 
however, could not possibly be the cause, for the 
Jewish Feast of the Passover, at which time the 
crucifixion took place, was always held during full 
moon; and at such time no solar eclipse was possible. 

An eclipse of the moon takes place whenever that 
body passes into the shadow of the earth; and this 
of course is only possible at the time of full moon 
when the moon is on the dark side of the earth.* 

By a careful study of the motions of the earth and 
moon, astronomers are able to predict eclipses with 

* "Eclipses, especially total eclipses of the sun were 
greatly dreaded by the ancients; and are still dreaded by 
uncivilized peoples. The Hindoos believe that in a solar 
eclipse, some monster is trying to swallow the sun. At 
these times they all turn out with gongs, and every pos- 
sible noise-producing instrument, and keep up the loudest, 
and most hideous noises, until the frightened monster 

disgorges his fiery mouthful." — Sharpless <t- Philips. 
18 



258 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

great accuracy long before their time of occurrence. 
It is related by several reliable authorities that 
Columbus once profited by his foreknowledge of an 
eclipse of the moon in a rather remarkable way. In 
1504 he was wrecked off the coast of Jamaica, and 
all attempts by persuasion and by threat to procure 
food and assistance from the natives were utterly un- 
successful. He told the savages that in consequence 
of their unkind treatment of him, their Great Spirit 
was angry with them, and would that night darken 
the moon as a sign of His displeasure. When the 
eclipse began, the superstitious Indians were greatly 
frightened, and hastened to do all in their power for 
the comfort of Columbus and his crew, beseeching 
him to ask forgiveness of the Deity in their behalf. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

THE STARS. 

_ ET us lift our eyes toward the great sky-dome 
upon some clear night when the moon is absent. 
Surely none but an infinite power can count 
these glimmering lights; these "lamps of the 
universe" as they have so appropriately been called. 
Think of those unnumbered worlds, and learn that 
there is one mind supremely great; one who telleth 
the number of the stars, and calleth them all 
by their names. But not alone to counting does 
His power extend. He is at once architect and 
builder of this imposing structure of creation. 



THE STARS. 259 

If we note carefully the position of several prom- 
inent stars for a number of nights in succession, we 
will most likely discover that some of them change 
their position relative to the rest from night to night, 
just as the moon is seen to apparently move among 
the stars; while others, — and these the greater num- 
ber—seem to retain a fixed position, never appearing 
nearer to or farther from thoir neighbors. The wan- 
dering stars first referred to above will be found very 
near the daily path of the sun in the heavens, none 
of them are seeu far to the north or the south; and 
these have been called planets, — the name meaning 
really "rovers." The second class of stars are called 
fixed stars. 

All the great family of planets move round the sun in 
regular order and at a fixed speed, each accomplish- 
ing its long journey always in the same interval of 
time; though this is different for each planet. All 
of these wandering stars derive their heat and light 
from the same great luminary. 

There is Mercury, which of all known stars is the 
nearest to the sun. It moves along its path at the 
surprising speed of thirty miles a second; and com- 
pletes its orbital journey in the space of about eighty- 
eight days. This, then, is the duration of the Mer- 
curial year, there being but twenty-two days in each 
season. In size, this body is about one-sixteenth 
that of the earth. 

The next planet in order of distance from the sun 
is Venus, the brightest star in the heavens, though 
in reality not nearly so large as the earth. She 



260 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

moves about the sun, however, along an orbit within 
that of the earth, and consequently receives more 
solar light and heat. When in a position west of 
the sun, she rises earlier than the orb of day, and is 
known as the "morning star," but when moving east 
of the sun, she is seen in the western heavens after 
sunset, and is honored by the title of "evening 
star." Before the motions of Venus had been care- 
fully studied, these two appearances were supposed 
to be distinct stars, and were named accordingly, 
Phosphorous or Lucifer, the Star of the Morn, and 
Vesper, or the Star of Eve. 

Being entirely within the orbit of the earth in all 
her movements, Venus presents in different positions 
all the phases or changes of the moon. Next to the 
orbit of Venus comes that of our Earth; for though 
appearing to us so different from the brilliant stars 
of the sky, the world we inhabit is really one of them, 
and moves in obedience to the same laws that hold 
Venus in her orbit, and that urge Mercury along its 
fiery path. And beyond our earth Mars, the ruddy 
star, rolls on its way. This planet also is smaller 
than the earth — being about one fourth the volume 
of our globe, and requiring about two years in which 
to complete a revolution around the sun. Still 
farther off in space is Jupiter, the giant planet, 
moving in majestic state along its prescribed path, 
and requiring about twelve years in which to com- 
plete a revolution. This enormous world is fourteen 
hundred times as large as ours; its volume is about 
one tenth that of the sun. Four moons attend it 



THE STARS. iJ61 

along its path and reflect the rays of the sun upon 
its surface. 

On the outside of this orbit is that of Saturn, 
which planet is surrounded by a beautiful ring, and 
is accompanied by eight moons. It rolls once around 
the sun in thirty years. Still beyond, are Uranus 
and Neptune) the former making a revolution about 
the sun once in eighty-four years, and the latter in 
one hundred and sixty-five. 

The sun, with its family of planets, and their 
satellites or moons, constitutes the so-called solar 
system. Wonderful as are these circling bodies, and 
great as are their separating distances, this system 
appears to be but one among many in the boundless 
fields of space. 

From what can be learned of the fixed stars, 
they are all self-luminous bodies like our sun; and 
each of them may be the central orb of a vast 
system of planetary bodies, equal to, and perhaps 
surpassing our own in grandeur. Even without 
assistance to our vision we may detect many patches 
of hazy starlight — almost like clouds. The telescope, 
turned upon such a foggy field, shows it to be but a 
cluster of numerous stars, differing widely from each 
other in size and brilliancy, and separated by dis- 
tances not to be counted in miles. 

Figure 40 represents such a misty patch in the 
constellation Toucan, one of the constellations visi- 
ble in the southern heavens. To the naked eye this 
seems nothing more than a very faint cloud; but 
with telescopic aid it appears to be composed of 



262 FIRST BOOK OF/ NATURE. 

innumerable points 'of light, each telling the loca- 
tion of a bright and blazing sun. 




Fig. 40.— Star Cluster in the Constellation Toucan. 

The Milky-way or Galaxy may be seen on any 
moonless night stretching across the heavens as part 
of a great circle. It looks ordinarily like a ring of 
misty light, but the telescope shows it to be com- 
posed of unnumbered millions of stars of varying 
degrees of brightness. 

Beside such, there are in the heavens numerous 
hazy patches which even the most powerful instru- 
ments fail to resolve into any appearance but'that of 
fog or mist. These are called Nebulae, and poeti- 
cally termed "star dust," though their true nature 
man is unable to learn. 



THE STARS. 263 

Figure 41 is designed to represent an annular or 
ring-like nebula in the constellation of Lyra. The 
smaller representation gives its appearance as viewed 




Fig. 41.— Annular Nebula in the Constellation Lyra, 
through a telescope of moderate power, and the 
larger picture is as the nebula appeared in the enor- 
mous Rosse reflector. The outer part seems to con- 
sist of separate and distinct stars, while the middle 
portions seem of a gauzy or filmy nature as if con- 
sisting of tiny particles. "Tiny," we say, but only 
by comparison, for to be seen at all at that enormous 
distance, the tiniest speck in that great "ring uni- 
verse" must far surpass in size and brilliancy our 
effulgent sun. 

The distance between the earth and the nearest 
fixed star is estimated at 20,000,000,000,000 miles; 
but what does such a number signify to our finite 
minds? Light travels through space at the incon- 
ceivable velocity of 186,000 miles per second, a speed 
sufficient to encircle the globe seven times while a 
watch ticks once. Light passes from the sun to the 
earth in eight minutes; but not less than three and 



264 FIRST BOOK OF NATURE. 

a half years must elapse while light travels from the 
nearest fixed star to the earth; over forty-five years 
are required for us to receive light from the Polar 
Star; and the luminous rays that come to us from 
many of the farthest stars, must have set out on 
their journey centuries ago. 

If such be the wonders of matter, how passing 
wonder must be He who made all such ! The Creator 
of all we see, according to whose word the heavenly 
spheres are formed and the forces of the universe are 
governed — He is our Father; and it is He whom we 
profess to worship. 



CHAPTER L. 

CONCLUSION. 




|HE pages of our little volume are nearly com- 
plete. In their course we have bestowed some 
attention upon a few of the unnumbered objects 
of our Father's creations. We have spoken of 
the animals, plants, and minerals of earth, and also of 
the brilliant orbs of the sky. In the contemplation 
of all these, we have seen unmistakable proof of a 
wise and powerful direction; the hand-marks of a 
Creator are left upon the fabric of Nature in every 
part; all things, the small and the great, declare 
with one accord the wisdom of the Almighty Mind 
that called them into being. 

At every step in his attempts to fathom the 



CONCLUSION. 265 

"thoughts of God," as expressed in the visible forms 
of creation, the student finds himself on the verge of 
the unknown; he feels ever as if traversing the frontier 
of an unexplored realm of truth; and without the aid 
of a Divine director he is apt to wander into danger- 
ous paths. But to the thoughtful and prayerful 
pupil, the Master is ever ready to impart knowledge 
and power. Knowledge has no permanent value only 
so far as it insures to its possessor a firmer reliance 
and a more implicit trust in the wisdom and might 
of his heavenly Parent. 

To the thoughtful observer, there is more than 
melody in the throbbing ecstasy of the singing bird; 
there is much beyond grace of movement, and 
brilliancy of hue in the flitting butterfly; the flower is 
more in his eye than a bunch of pretty leaves upon 
a stalk, such as a skillful artist might in some degree 
imitate with wax and paint; to him, the sun by day, 
and the moon and stars by night are not mere lamps 
to light the world — in all of these he sees and recog- 
nizes the existence of a perfect design, that could 
have originated only in the mind of Omniscience. 

Well has it been said, that order is Heaven's first 
law; and the second is like unto it, that everything 
in nature has a purpose; these constitute the sum of 
all science. This is Nature's hymn of praise to the 
Creator, chanted by the lowly objects of earth no 
less than by the majestic worlds of the universe, "in 
Him we live and move and have our being." 



••_K<^ 



^ 















4S T3 1888 
First book of nature. 
Talmage. James Edward 
1862-1933. 



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