Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Jiggers - Locusts - White ants...
 Moonlight walk in Jamaica - Fire-flies...
 Living jewels - Uses of insects...
 Indian rice fields - The rice bird...
 Gorillas - Capture of master Joe...
 Sandal trees - The bamboo - The...
 A missionary story - Madagascar...
 Back Cover

Title: Uncle Ned's stories of the tropics
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080120/00001
 Material Information
Title: Uncle Ned's stories of the tropics
Alternate Title: Stories of the tropics
Physical Description: 160 p. 15, 1 : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ferrier, Charles A ( Engraver )
Religious Tract Society (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Butler and Tanner ( Printer )
Publisher: Religious Tract Society
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Butler and Tanner
Publication Date: [1891?]
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Plants -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Uncles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Tropics   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1891   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1891   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1891
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Frome
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follow text.
General Note: Illustrations engraved by C.A. Farrier.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080120
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002237962
notis - ALH8456
oclc - 183690040

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Front Cover 3
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Jiggers - Locusts - White ants - Goatsuckers - Ant-eater - Nests of ants - Soldiers and labourers - Marchiing ants - Mr. Wallace's collection - Uncle Ned's promise
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Moonlight walk in Jamaica - Fire-flies - Praying mantis Mosquitoes - Yams - The southern cross - A lunar rainbow - The blue mountain - A cold night - Stingless bees - Brush-footed spider - Wisdom of God - The prisoner and the beetle
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Living jewels - Uses of insects - Alice's difficulty - Livingstone and the lion - A snake under the pillow - Snake charmers - Adventure with a python - The boa constrictor - The secretary bird - The ichneumon - Rat - Snakes - The adjutant - Jamaica negroes
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
    Indian rice fields - The rice bird - Sago - Tapioca - Indian corn - Mahogany - Cotton - Pepper and nutmeg
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Gorillas - Capture of master Joe - Escape from a crocodile - Sleeping on a crocodile - Geckos - Anoles - The chameleon
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
    Sandal trees - The bamboo - The baobab - The traveller's tree - The banyan tree - The basilisk - Humming-birds - Ostriches - Ostrich hunting - Story of a hippopotamus
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    A missionary story - Madagascar - Malagasy customs - Cruelty of King Radama - Missionary schools - Persecution of Christians - The first martyr - Spread of Christianity
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
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        Page A-1
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        Page A-17
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text


page 131.



Rololl :




Jiggers-Locusts-White Ants -Goatsuckers-Ant-eater-Nests
of Ants-Soldiers and Labourers-Marching Ants-Mr.
Wallace's Collection-Uncle Ned's Promise 7


Moonlight Walk in Jamaica-Fire-flies-Praying Mantis-Mos-
quitoes-Yams-The Southern Cross-A Lunar Rainbow-
The Blue Mountain-A Cold Night-Stingless Bees-Brush-
footed Spider-Wisdom of God-The Prisoner and the
Beetle 26


Living Jewels-Uses of Insects-Alice's Difficulty-Livingstone
and the Lion-A Snake under the Pillow-Snake-charmers
-Adventure with a Python-The Boa Constrictor-The
SecretaryBird-The Ichneumon-Rat-Snakes-The Adjutant
-Jamaica Negroes 552


Indian Rice Fields-The Rice Bird-Sago-Tapioca-Indian
Corn-Mahogany-Cotton-Pepper and Nutmeg 79


6 Contents.

Gorillas-Capture of Master Joe-Escape from a Crocodile-
Sleeping on a Crocodile-Geckos-Anoles-The Chameleon. 91

Sandal Trees-The Bamboo-The Baobab-The Traveller's Tree-
The Banyan Tree-The Basilisk-Humming Birds- Ostriches
-Ostrich Hunting-Story of a Hippopotamus 113


A Missionary Story-Madagascar-Malagasy Customs-Cruelty of
King Radama-Missionary Schools-Persecution of Christians
-The First Martyr-Spread of Christianity 137


Jiggers-Locusts-- White Ants Goatsuckers Ant-eater-
Nests of Ants-Soldiers and Labourers-Marching
Ants-Mr. Wallace's Collection-Uncle Ned's Promise.
-~ do tell us some of
your wonderful travel-
lers' stories-true ones,
111 you know. Papa says
\you have been half over

''', spent years in the tro-
N.', pics, and we want to
S hear all about it."
The speaker was a
S .- bright boy of ten years
old, named Charlie.
Uncle Edward was half dozing in a comfortable
arm-chair by the fire, and Charlie's papa was peeling

8 Stories of the Tropics.

an apple for his little daughter Alice, who was seated
on his lap.
With one bound she was at her uncle's side. "Dear
Uncle Edward, do-please do," she said, and lifted
up her little face imploringly. Uncle Edward could
never refuse his little pet anything, so, good-naturedly
rousing himself, and looking at the children very much
with the expression that a great Newfoundland dog
would assume towards two little kittens who disturbed
his slumbers, he muttered:
"'All about it,'-that is, certainly, a very modest
request, Charlie. Why, I. should have to talk night
and day all the time I am here to do that, and not
finish then. You would be rather tired of listening,
I think."
"Oh no, Uncle Edward, we shall never tire," cried
both children at once.
Uncle Edward regarded them with a curious look,
lifting up his great shaggy eyebrows. "What in-
satiable creatures children are he remarked.
"Don't let them tire you, Ned," said Mr. Stone.
"No, I'll take care of that; but where shall I
begin ?"
"Oh, tell us first about the insects, said Charlie,
who considered himself a great entomologist, and
was very fond of capturing butterflies. He had
made quite a large collection of English butterflies
during the last two summers, to which he had received
many contributions from cousins and friends in dif-
ferent parts of England. "I have heard there are
such splendid butterflies in the tropics, and termites,

and honey ants, and frogs, and beetles, and all sorts
of delightful things."
"The insects of the tropics are much more delight-
ful to talk about here in England than to meet with
in their own country, I can tell you. They are the
greatest plagues imaginable; in fact, they are worse
than plagues, they are most intolerable nuisances;
they sting and bite in such a cruel way that they often
cause most serious illness."
Tell them about the jiggers, Ned," said Mr. Stone.
Oh, those horrid chegoes, or jiggers, that lamed me
in the West Indies. They are little creatures, about
the size of a small flea; they get into one's feet, bury
themselves under the skin, and there they make their
nests. I found a little tumour on my toe about the
size of a pea, with a dark spot in the centre, which
gave me great pain. I could not imagine what it was
till I showed it to my man-servant, who was used to the
.country, and had suffered himself in like manner. He
told me that the negro women are very clever in taking
them out, so I sent for one to operate on me. First
she removed the skin from the little ball, just as we
should peel an orange, then pressing the flesh all
round, she succeeded in getting out the nest without
breaking it, and filled up the hole with tobacco, in
case any of the eggs should remain in the wound and
form a fresh colony."
"Oh, uncle, how horrible!" cried little Alice.
"Not so bad as a friend of mine, who was travel-
ling in the interior of Africa, and got a horrid worm
into his foot. His leg and ankle swelled, and, like

Stories of the Tropics.

me, he did not at all know what was the matter; but
he put on a plaster, and when he pulled it off, out
came a few inches of the worm. These worms are
sometimes twelve feet long, and not much thicker
than a horse-hair, so you may imagine the difficulty
of getting the creature out without breaking. Indeed
my friend did not manage to do so; however, he got
it out by degrees, two or three inches at a time, and
it caused him dreadful pain."
"But worms are not insects, uncle," interrupted
"No, and I have told you enough of these pests of
hot countries. I will go on to something more inter-
esting. There is a very destructive insect, of which
I dare say you have heard. I mean the locust,
which visits all hot countries, and does a great deal
of mischief. It is called the Migratory Locust, be-
cause 6f its habit of going in vast armies, like winged
clouds, over the earth. Wherever they alight all
vegetation soon disappears, as the myriads of insect-
jaws commence their destructive work, In some
places the locust is used for food."
"Oh, uncle!" said Alice, with an expression of dis-
gust, "they must be very nasty."
"Some people don't think so, or they would not
eat them. In Africa, large fires are kindled in the
path of the insects, and as they come flying along
the smoke stifles them and they fall in thousands,
and are roasted and eaten. Dr. Livingstone speaks
quite highly of the locust as an article of food, and
says it is superior to shrimps. Sometimes the bodies



are left in the sun to dry, and then ground into a
powder between two stones. This powder is eaten
with honey, and is said to make very fattening and
wholesome food for man or beast. The food of John

I-- _-- 7.
-- ~-- -- -_C__ - -

the Baptist, when in the wilderness, you know, was
'locusts and wild honey,' though some think that this
refers to the locust bean, and not to the insect of that

12 Stories of the Tropics.

"I did not think the destructive locust was of any
use," said Charlie.
"There is some wise purpose in everything God
has created, we may be quite sure of that," replied
Uncle Ned. "Now, would you like to hear about
the termites ?"
What are they, uncle ? asked Alice.
White ants, to be sure," responded Charlie, proud
of his superior knowledge.
"They are called white ants, observed his uncle,
"but they really belong to quite a different order of
insects. They are more allied to dragon-flies, ant-lions
and may-flies. In fact they are not ants at all, except
in name. Still some of their laws, habits, and man-
ners remind us of the ant's. They are divided into
three distinct classes-labourers, soldiers, and perfect
insects. They build large houses, or rather citadels,
for they contain an immense population : these cita-
dels are sometimes twelve feet high and a hundred
feet in circumference."
"Why, Uncle Ned, that would be twice as big as
you are; that would be higher than this room."
Yes," Charlie, I know it," said their uncle, gravely;
"I am not exaggerating."
"You are telling no 'travellers' tales,' are you,
Ned ? but real sober truth," remarked Mr. Stone.
"Yes, indeed, truth is often stranger than fiction;
and if I had not seen them myself, I could hardly
have believed many of the wonders which -I am going
to tell you. But first about the arrangement of their
houses, which are built of clay. Only the under part

White Ants.

is inhabited by the white ants; the upper part is
merely built in order to defend them from the wea-
ther, and to keep up the warmth and moisture in the
lower part, which is necessary for hatching the eggs
and rearing the young ones. In the centre of the
building, and almost on a level with the ground, is
the queen's palace, a large room where she lives in
grandeur with the king her consort, and is waited on
by her attendants with more zeal and loyalty than
any king or queen of the British Isles has ever
received from her devoted subjects. But the poor
queen never leaves her state apartment; indeed, she


soon grows to such an enormous size that she could
not get out through the doors."
"Oh, uncle, it is more like a prison than a palace,
I think," said Alice.
"And is the poor king obliged to stay with her ?"
asked Charlie.
"The king soon dies, but the queen continues to
live and increase in size till she is three inches long,
and wide in proportion, and weighs as much as 30,000
labourers. Then she begins to lay her eggs at the
rate of fifty or sixty a minute, and this goes on night
and day without interruption for many months, so

14 Stories of the Tro ics.

you may imagine she has at last a pretty numerous
"But how can she take care of such a family as
that ? It seems quite impossible "
"It is indeed impossible. Luckily for her, she has
nothing to do but to lay her eggs, and there are
plenty of nurses to take care of them and bring up

the young ones properly. Besides, you must re-
member there is but one queen in every colony, and
the labourers and the soldiers have no children."
"A very fortunate thing, I think," said Charlie;
"but I don't quite understand what you mean by the
labourers and the soldiers."
"The labourers and the soldiers are not perfect in-

White Ants. 15

sects like the king and queen; they are not fully de-
veloped, and on this account they are called neuters."
"What does developed mean, uncle ?" asked Alice.
"It means unfolded; just as in a bud every little
leaf is already formed, which is afterwards unfolded
in the flower. So in these insects there are the same
powers as possessed by the king and queen, but they
are not yet unfolded."

_- A _--5-

"Then they all become kings and queens some
day, just as children grow up to be men and women,"
exclaimed Charlie.
"No, indeed; scarcely one in many thousands of
these insects becomes a king or queen. When fully
grown they leave their homes and fly in such clouds
that they would soon fill the earth and destroy every-
thing if they were suffered to live; but, happily for
us, they have many enemies."

16 Stories of the Tropics.

Here Charlie interrupted his uncle. But you
never told us they had wings, uncle."
"No; they possess their wings only for a few
hours. As soon as they are fully grown, or developed,

these wings appear (four long narrow wings folded
over each other); and then, as I told you, they fly in
clouds ; but while flying, the birds, goat-suckers, and


The Ant-Eater. 17

bats attack them, and when they have shed their
wings (which always fall off after a few hours), they
are pursued by ants, toads, spiders, and other ene-
mies. There is one animal, the Ant-Eater, which,
with the assistance of its long tongue, expressly
adapted for the purpose, consumes hundreds of these
white ants in a very short space of time. If the

R el


labourers see one fortunate pair survive, they imme-
diately take them to a place of safety, and build
their little palace of clay. Then they are duly elected
king and queen, and a new colony is founded."
"Is there any difference between the soldiers and
the labourers ? asked Alice.


`3 .

71.F~ i 1

Stories of the Tropics.

"Yes, there is; the soldiers are the males, and the
labourers the females.. The soldiers are six times as
large as the labourers; they have powerful jaws pro-
ceeding from enormous heads, and it
is their duty to fight for their friends
and their country, a duty which they
perform very well, I assure you. The
labourers are the nurses. It is their
business to nurse the queen's children.
They only have the privilege of en-
SOLDIER ANT. tering her palace, for the doors are
not large enough to admit the soldiers."
You have not told us all about their houses yet,
uncle," remarked Charlie.
No, I have not had much chance of telling you
'all about' anything. You ask too many questions.
Now, don't interrupt me again for three whole minutes,
and I will give you a description of their houses."
"Oh, thank you, uncle; we won't say a single
word," said both the children.
Well, I'll tell you about the houses, or rather cita-
dels, which I saw myself in Western Africa. They
are twelve feet high, and so strong I used often to
stand on them to get a good view of the surrounding
"Was there much to see, uncle ?" asked Charlie,
"There now-"
"Oh, I forgot; but was there ?"
"Not much where I happened to be at that time,
only a large grassy plain. I told you about the
queen's palace, which is in the centre of the building.

Soldiers and Labourers. t9

There are numberless rooms encircling the palace,
and in these rooms there is a large train of labourers
and soldiers constantly in attendance. The space
between these rooms and the outer walls is filled with
cells, some of which are used as store-rooms, some as
nurseries. Then there are wonderful subterranean
passages running under the bottom of the hill to a
depth of three or four feet, and carefully lined with
clay. These subterranean passages are connected
with a number of smaller galleries that looked some-
thing like a corkscrew, winding round and round.
They are not very good climbers, so they make this
kind of spiral staircase to save themselves the steep
walk up-hill."
"What lazy fellows !" exclaimed Charlie.
"Nobody can accuse them of that, Charlie. No,
the termites work hard enough; they are always
building, or nursing, or waiting on their queen, or
carrying clay, wood, water, and provisions to the
different rooms and galleries."
"It sounds just as if they were real men and
women we are talking about, uncle. I had no idea
there were such interesting and clever creatures
among the insects," said little Alice.
"Oh, Alice, that's so like a girl," said her brother.
"If you had studied insects as I have, you would
soon have found out they are clever enough even here
in England. But those African fellows are uncom-
monly sharp, I must own."
"They arrange all their work so well," continued
their uncle, and each has his own work and his own

20 Storzes of ite Tropics.

place. We may learn a good deal from them, Master
Charlie ; and the soldiers don't sneer at the labourers,
but help them, and fight for them as men and boys
should for their little women. I once made a breach
in a termite's nest with my hatchet, and then retired
to a little distance to watch the effect. The labourers
retired in alarm, for they cannot fight; and out came
a soldier, evidently reconnoitring. He gave an alarm,
and two or three more appeared, then a large army
of them, all ready for war. The poor soldiers are
under one great disadvantage, for they are blind, and
it is really amusing to see them tumbling over each
other, sometimes missing their hold and rolling down
the sides of the hill. They soon recover themselves,
however, and bite everything they come near. Their
fierceness and courage are really wonderful. For-
tunately, they have no poison glands, or perhaps I
should not have been here to tell the tale."
What, uncle, did they bite you ?" exclaimed both
the children at once.
"One fellow got on my coat sleeve and bit my
arm. It bit right through the cloth, and hard work I
had to get rid of the creature. But I was determined
to go on watching. As I made no further breach, the
bustle subsided and the soldiers retired. Then came
the good little labourers, each carrying a load of
tempered mortar half as big as himself, laid it on the
edge of the hole, and hastened back for more. There
were crowds of labourers, all working, at the same
moment, and in half an hour the breach I had
made was repaired."

A Travellers Tale. 21

"Are there any termites in Europe, uncle?"
Yes, some have been imported in ships, to the
great sorrow of the French; they have done all they
could to get rid of them. These mischievous little
creatures have destroyed some valuable documents
belonging to the French government."
But where were these documents kept ?"
"In the prefect's palace."
I didn't know they ever got into houses."
"Indeed they do; when I was in South Africa my
table was once left too long in one position, and the
rogues destroyed it entirely-swallowed it with as
much ease, and probably as much enjoyment as you
would swallow a plum-pudding."
Oh, uncle, now that is what papa calls 'a travel-
ler's tale'; now you are laughing at us, I am certain.
How could such little creatures swallow a table ? "
"I didn't say they swallowed it whole, did I ?
They worked away at the inside, thousands and
thousands of them at once, and left nothing but the
barren shell. They are such sly little creatures. I
had been away on a hunting expedition, and when
I came back there was nothing left of my table but
the outside, which was perfect. I threw my travel-
ling bag on it, and straightway it tumbled to pieces.
However, a friend of mine, who took up his residence
for a time near me, was even worse off than myself;
the termites got into his bed and all his boxes, des-
troyed his books, and at last fairly turned him out of
house and home, for as he could not drive'them away,
he was obliged to get a lodging elsewhere."

22 Storzes of tke Tropics.

"I wonder such horrid pests are allowed to live.
Do they ever do any good, uncle ?" asked Charlie.
"Yes, they do a great deal of good in those tropi-
cal countries," replied his uncle; "no doubt they are
necessary to keep the air pure, for they are always
busy removing decayed vegetable substances. So
we must not be too hard on them, if now and then
they destroy a few things which they ought to let
alone. But you will like to hear about another kind
of white ant which I once saw. Most of them, as I
told you, live and work under covered galleries, but
the marching termite exposes itself to the light of
day. It is not blind like those I have been speaking
of. I was once passing through a thick forest, when
I heard a hiss like that of a serpent. I followed
the noise and found an army of marching white ants
emerging from a hole in the ground, and marching
quickly. After proceeding a little way they divided
into two columns; they walked fourteen or fifteen
abreast, following each other closely and going
straight forward. They were nearly all labourers."
Did you find out what made the hissing noise ?"
"Yes; and a most amusing scene it was. Some
soldiers here and there mounted on plants about
a foot from the ground, hung over the army, and by
striking their jaws upon the leaves at intervals, pro-
duced a peculiar noise. It seemed a signal for quick
marching, as the whole army replied with a hiss and
increased their pace. At length the army reunited,
and descended into the earth again. But I have
talked too much about these termites,"

Beetles and Butterflies. 23

No, uncle; they are so interesting."
"Yes, they are certainly interesting, but you ought
to hear something about the gorgeous butterflies and
beetles of the tropics. How they would delight your
eyes, Charlie !"
"Oh, I have seen many of them in the British
Museum. But they must look splendid flying about.
How I should like to go over and catch some! "
"A gentleman named Mr. Wallace did go to the
Malay Archipelago on purpose to collect specimens
of various kinds of insects, birds, reptiles, and other
creatures. He came home in 1862, bringing with
him more than a hundred and twenty-five thousand
specimens of natural history, of which more than
thirteen thousand were butterflies."
Oh, uncle, how delightful! exclaimed Charlie.
"He has written a-book about his adventures,
which you will enjoy reading some day, my boy.
Fancy his finding a beetle whose legs spread over
a space of eight inches "
Did you ever find one, uncle ?"
"No, but I have been tp the Moluccas, and -the
insects there are wonderfully beautiful. Mr. Wallace
found a beetle such as I have described, and he found
also a splendid bird-winged butterfly, a very rare
insect. The male measures more than seven inches
across the wings, which are velvety black and fiery
orange. Mr. Wallace says that his delight at finding
it was so great that the blood rushed to his head, and
he nearly fainted with excitement."
"Oh, uncle, I can quite understand it," cried

Stories of the Trofics.

Charlie; "I should be beside myself for joy if I
could catch one."
Papa, who had been a most attentive listener, now
puts in a word.
Come, Ned, the children must really go to bed;
we shall have this boy flying off to the Moluccas in
search of butterflies, instead of leading a respectable
life in England, improving the state of English law."
"Just one question, uncle," pleaded Charlie. Did
Mr. Wallace catch the insects all himself, or did he
have anybody to help him ? "
Sometimes he employed the natives to catch
insects for him, in return for which he would give
them tobacco, which they highly valued. They used
to bring him quantities of creeping things in bamboo
boxes; but, unfortunately, they had generally eaten
each other, like the Kilkenny cats, before they came
into Mr. Wallace's possession. Beetles, butterflies,
and other insects were all boxed up together."
"Oh, what a pity! Now, uncle, you will promise
to tell us something about the tropics every day you
are here, won't you ? begged Charlie.
That will be a whole week, counting Sunday,"
said his sister; we shall have six more evenings
before you go, uncle; do promise."
"Well, I think I may promise a story some part
of the day; perhaps it will not always be in the
"Then we shall feel as if we had spent a whole
week at the tropics," exclaimed little Alice, delighted;
"I am sure I shall dream about those clever little

Good-nzigh. 25

termites to-night. Good-night, uncle; I wish I was
a great traveller like you."
"And I mean to be a great traveller some day,"
said Charlie, "and then, perhaps, I shall make dis-
coveries, and bring home lots of new butterflies and
beetles, more than Mr. Wallace did."
"Not much fear of that, Charlie," said his uncle;
"but your papa will put a stop to my stories if they
encourage your roving propensities. You must be
content with fancying you have had a week at
the tropics while you have never stirred from your
own fireside. And I can assure you that it will be
very much more comfortable to sit at home and read
or hear of the wonders of tropical countries, than to
go and see them for yourself."


Moonlight Walk in Jamaica-Fire-flies-Praying Mantis-
Mosquitoes-Yams-The Southern Cross-A Lunar
Rainbow-The Blue Mountain-A Cold Night-Stingless
Bees Brush-footed Spider-Wisdom of God-The
Prisoner and the Beetle.

"NCLE, did you see any fire-flies when
you were in the West Indies ?"
asked Charlie the next evening.
"I know you've been there, and its
just the right place for fire-flies."
S"Yes, Charlie, I have seen them,
J .' and very beautiful they are."
S"I suppose they're not a bit like
common flies ?" asked Alice.
"They are not really flies, Alice, but beetles,"
replied her brother, who had been getting up the
subject from a book which he had found in his
father's library. "The Spaniards of South America
call them cucuyos."
Oh, Charlie, you'll be as clever as uncle is, some
day," said Alice, much impressed. But if you know
all about fire-flies, you shall tell me when we are
alone, and uncle can talk about something else now,"

Night in yamazca. 27

"No, I want to hear about real ones, that uncle
has seen with his very own eyes.
Well, my boy, I saw a good many in Jamaica. I
spent three weeks in that island with my old school-
fellow Horace White. The second evening I spent
at his house I shall never forget. The day had been
intensely hot, and just as I was looking forward to
a quiet night's rest, Horace (he has the strength of
Hercules, I believe) proposed a walk. Well, I ought
to thank him for dragging me out. I would not have
missed that walk for a great deal. The sky was. a
deep, deep blue, such as you never see in England;
and the moon, far more beautiful than she appears to
us, was pouring down a flood of light on forest and
sea and mountain. There had been a storm on the
previous day, and the drops of rain, still hanging
from every twig, looked like diamonds in the moon-
light. We walked through a glade surrounded by
woods, and then diverged into a road cut through a
forest, a gloomy place enough even by day. Strange
noises filled the air, proceeding, doubtless, from the
inhabitants of the forest, with whom I did not care
to make closer acquaintance. I turned round to my
friend and suggested that it-was getting near bedtime."
"Oh, uncle, how could you ? I shouldn't have
been afraid," said Charlie, boldly.
Well, I'm glad I have such a brave fellow for my
nephew; but I was tired that night, and not at all
disposed for encounters with snakes, robbers, or any
other enemies to mankind; besides, I was a young
traveller then,"

Stories of the Tropics.

"Ah, that makes a difference, certainly," said
Charlie, graciously excusing his uncle's weakness.
But my friend, who is very fond of insects, like
you, Charlie, insisted on taking me to one particular
dell, where, he said, owing to the darkness, we should
see the fire-flies to the best advantage. So, on we
went, and certainly I was rewarded for my trouble.
We stood watching them a long time, flashing along

like meteors, now giving out their red and green
lights, now hiding themselves in darkness, for I sup-
pose you know, Charlie, that they can blaze out and
become dull at pleasure."
"Can they really, uncle?" asked Alice, in a
whisper, for she was much awed. She had been
wondering whether, when Charlie grew up to be a
man, he would insist on taking her to these dreadful
forests in search of fire-flies.
"Did you catch any, uncle ? she continued, half




hoping that her uncle might be able to satisfy Charlie
by showing him a specimen.
"Not that night, but one evening several came into
the room where we were sitting, and then I had a
good opportunity of observing them. There was no
moon that night, and we put out the lights in order
to see them the better. It would have been pitch
dark if it were not for these wonderful insects. But
they gave such a brilliant light at times I could have
seen to read by it. I caught one, and the moment I
touched it, it began gradually to give out its light till
it quite dazzled me. I kept it under a glass, but
it displayed very little light the next evening, even
when I handled it."
Perhaps it was sulky, and did not like to be kept
prisoner," said Alice.
"Poor thing, it was out of spirits, and missed its
food and exercise, I suppose. I let it go, and hope it
recovered itself when it joined its friends."
What do they feed on, uncle ?" asked Charlie.
I fancy they are fond of the sugar-cane, for on a
calm night I have often seen them sport about like
falling stars on the sugar plantations."
"Did you see any other curious insects in Jamaica,
uncle ? asked Alice.
"Yes, I saw a great number; there was a very
interesting one called the Praying Mantis."
"What a funny name," said Charlie. "Why do
the people give it such a title ?"
"Because of a remarkable habit it has of sitting
with its long flattened fore-legs held up and joined as

Stones of the Tropics.

if in the attitude of prayer. There are some curious
stories told about this insect. Some natives of the
countries where the mantis is found, say that if a
traveller has lost himself in a forest, and asks a
mantis to show him the way, the kind little creature
will lift up one of its arms and point in the right


direction. An old legend tells us that one of these
insects being met by a celebrated Roman Catholic
saint, and commanded to chant as well as to act
a prayer, at once obeyed. Of course there is no
truth in these stories, which have arisen on account
of the strange habit of the mantis."

The Praying Mantis. 33

"You did not tell us why the mantis acts so
curiously, uncle," said Charlie.
It is because it feeds on flies and small insects of
various kinds, which it seizes and pulls to pieces with
its fore-legs, and it is while waiting for its prey that
it assumes the strange attitude which gives it its
Did you bring any of these funny insects home,
uncle?" asked Alice.
"No, my dear, I am no collector of insects, though
I like to notice their ways, but you may see plenty of
specimens, no doubt, at the British Museum."
Now, Ned, I think it is my turn," broke in Mr.
Stone, who had been a most patient listener; "you
have been discoursing all this time about insects to
please Charlie, and if you can possibly turn your mind
for a few minutes from this absorbing subject, perhaps
you will give me a little idea how you spent your
time.in Jamaica, and what sort of place it is where
our old friend Horace has settled down."
"It is full ten years since I was there, you must
remember. He had a pleasant house on the borders
of Westmoreland."
"Westmoreland! that's in England," exclaimed
both the children together.
Yes, but it is in Jamaica also," replied their uncle,
"or rather the people there, who like everything
English, because they are English themselves, are fond
of calling the places by our old English names. I
had a very pleasant time of it. We spent the day
something in this fashion. About six o'clock in the

34 Stories of ie Tropics.

morning a negro servant would bring me a cup of
coffee and a slice of toast, which I took in bed."
"And how did you sleep ? Were the mosquitoes
troublesome ?" asked Mr. Stone ; "but I am trenching
on a dangerous subject, for Charlie will want to know
all about the manners and habits of mosquitoes."
"That is soon told; they are the most horrible
pests in the world. It is impossible to sleep without
having a thin net of muslin round the bed. It is
quite a science to get into bed through the smallest
possible opening in the net, and then carefully to
close it up so that nothing can get through. I really
believe that if one were to attempt to sleep in Jamaica
without a mosquito curtain, he would be only fit for
a lunatic asylum by morning. Well, I spent an hour
and a half at least in dressing, and it was generally
eight before I emerged from my room. Then Horace
and I got our morning ride, in which we were
generally accompanied by one or other of his girls.
He has a kind, hospitable wife, and three charming
daughters. At ten we sat down to breakfast, and
a capital one it was-yams, potatoes, eggs, fruit, and
tinned meats from England. The ladies do not
go out between breakfast and dinner, the sun is too
much for them, but I managed to get about on horse-
back, for it is not so frightfully hot in the country,
especially in the hills, as it is in the towns. At
Kingston, and Spanish Town, too, the heat is some-
thing fearful. I never endured such misery in my life
as I did one day under the burning sun in Spanish

Yams. 35

I have a question to ask, uncle, but I don't like
to interrupt him," said Alice to her brother, in what
she intended to be a whisper, but her uncle's quick
ears caught the remark.
So have I," replied her brother.
"Well, now let me have your questions," said their
good-natured uncle. Then turning to Mr. Stone:
" John, this is the children's hour, you must remember,
so they have a right to command me. Now, Alice ?'


"What are yams, uncle ?"
West Indian vegetables. The roots, or tubers, are
eaten; they are oblong, and sometimes very large,
brown outside and white inside. They are brought
over to England and sold in the shops of London and
Which is the capital of Jamaica, uncle, Kingston
or Spanish Town ? asked Charlie.

Stones of the Tropics.

Kingston is the capital, my boy, and a miserable
place it is ; or at least it was when I was there. It is
not lighted at night, and the streets are not paved.
The governor lives at Spanish Town, and that is a
pity. If the seat of government were at Kingston,
perhaps the inhabitants would take a little more pride
in their city. But I was describing how I generally
spent my day. We dined at six, and dressing for


that meal always occupied full a hour. I used to do
it in parts, and sit down between each act. Putting
on one's boots is a serious exertion over there, I can
assure you; but the most pleasant part of the day is
the evening, the stars are so beautiful in the tropical
"Did you see the constellation of the Southern
Cross ? asked Charlie.
Yes, I saw it. I must confess I was a little dis-

A Lzunar Rainbozw.

appointed in it; I expected something more striking.
The stars are not very large, and it does not make a
perfect cross; the star on one side scarcely corres-
ponds with the opposite one; it is smaller in size
than I thought; but the constellation must always
be interesting, and I am glad to have seen it. I had
another pleasure, too, in Jamaica, and that was seeing
a lunar rainbow. It is sometimes seen in England,
but I believe it is rather a rare sight even in Jamaica."
Alice looked puzzled, so her uncle kindly explained:
"A lunar rainbow, my love, is a rainbow caused by
the moonlight instead of the sunlight. You know
that the beautiful coloured arch is the effect of light
on the drops of rain."
"Is a lunar rainbow as bright as a solar one?"
asked Charlie.
The colours were not so clear and decided in the
one I saw, probably they never are. Now I am going
to tell you about an expedition I had up the Blue
Mountain Peak in Jamaica, which I think you will
like to hear; and then we will go back to our insects
again, my boy."
Hurrah !" shouted Charlie ; and Alice, from
sympathy with her brother's pleasure, made a little
extemporaneous dance round the room clapping her
hands. At last she bethought herself that an inter-
ruption like this to her uncle's narrative was hardly
proper, especially in a young lady seven years old;
so, demurely seating herself on the rug at her uncle's
feet, and resting her head against his knee, she

Stores of the T'ohics.

"A frisk now and then does one good, you know,
uncle; but I'm going to be quiet now, so tell us about
the Blue Mountain."
"Ah, that was a 'frisk' of mine, and a very foolish
one too."
"Why did you go up, uncle ?" asked Charlie; and
is it very high ?"
"I went up because I was a blockhead, and my
friend was as bad to take me, and sacrifice himself as
he did, for I found he went entirely for my amuse-
ment. The Peak is said to be 8,000 feet above the
level of the sea.
"Stop a minute, uncle, I must try and think how
high that is," said Charlie. "Eight thousand feet.
There are three feet in a yard." Charlie stopped and
looked puzzled. His papa, uncle, and Alice were
silently awaiting the result of his meditations. At
length he got up. I can't do it without a pencil."
Away flew Alice, and, like a little fairy, produced
pencil and paper in a moment. He'll do it, papa,"
she whispered; "but, you know, we mustn't interrupt
"You will have to go with Charlie on his butterfly
expeditions, Alice," returned her father, he could not
do without you."
But, papa, we are not going. It is much nicer to
sit here by the fire and pretend, for I feel I am in
Jamaica all the time, and we are just starting up the
Blue Mountain."
Charlie here announced that eight thousand feet are
nearly a mile and a half. "Just as far as to Hunt's

The Blue MAountain. 39

Cottage, Alice; but straight up, as straight as ever
you can go," pointing with his pencil up to the
"But the mountain does not go straight up, and
you went a roundabout way, I dare say, uncle. What
miles and miles you must have walked I" said Alice,
"Indeed we did, and pretty footsore and weary we
were when we got to the top, I assure you. We rode
part of the way, however, as far as the house of a
coffee-planter; it is the highest inhabited house in
the island. He is an hospitable fellow, and gave us a
good breakfast; but on parting from him we soon got
into the clouds, and we never came out of them till
we reached his dwelling again on our way homewards.
It was nothing but mist, fog, clouds, and rain all the
way. We saw absolutely nothing.
"Something like the Snowdon expedition, Ned."
"Yes, but this was infinitely worse. When you
and I got to the top of Snowdon, there was a hut
and a fire ready for us; but on the Blue Mountain
there was nothing of the kind. We had made tre-
mendous preparations for spending the night there, in
order to see the sun rise next morning. Horace took
six negroes, who carried on their heads a grand supply
of eatables, besides wine, firewood, and warm clothing.
When we got to the top, the first thing we did was to
make a fire and set the negroes to work to build a
hut; but the fellows were thoroughly out of temper.
I suppose the soaking they had had disagreed with
them ; at any rate they were as sulky as bears, and

Stories of the Tropics.

as lazy as-as-that animal." (Uncle Ned at a loss
for a comparison, had looked round the room, and his
eye rested on Jasper, the fat old Pomeranian dog, who
was quietly sleeping by the fire. He poked him with
his foot to give force to his remark).
"Uncle exclaimed Alice, indignantly, how can
you ?" and she smothered the old dog with kisses.
"Well," resumed her uncle, we couldn't get these
wretched negroes to work at all without constant
supplies of rum, and when that got into their heads
they became quarrelsome. I half wished we had left
them at the bottom of the mountain, but we should
have been worse off without them, for we were sorely
in want of shelter, food, and clothing. We tried to
eat a good supper--dried our clothes, smoked our
pipes, and made the best of it, but it was hard work
to be cheerful under the circumstances, cold, wet, and
tired out as we were."
Cold, uncle, in the tropics ? "
Yes, it was cold enough up there-the cold kept
us awake all night, though we put on all the clothes
and covering we had got."
What in the world have you told us this dismal
story for, Ned?" asked Mr. Stone; "I hope the
weather cleared, and you were rewarded by a good
sunrise in the morning."
Sunrise I shall never go up a hill to see the sun
rise again. I have seen nothing but mist from that or
any other mountain. I tell this tale to warn this rash
boy of yours against such excursions. We shall have
Charlie going up all the mountains in his reach before

A Curious Spider.

long, so it's as well he should know beforehand what
he may expect for his pains."
"Was it any better coming down, uncle ? asked
It was only better in this respect, that every step
out of a difficulty is preferable to stepping farther and
farther into it," replied her uncle.
Geography is much more amusing since you came,
uncle, you make it all real; but I used to think it a
stupid lesson. Now I quite want to get my maps
and find Kingston, and Spanish Town, and the Blue
Mountain Peak, because we've been there-haven't
we, Charlie ?"
Charlie was not disposed to assent to this, perhaps
his imagination was less active than his sister's.
I mean to go, really," he answered; "it may be
very well for you to play about it, but it's serious to
"Now, children, it is getting towards bedtime, and
if you want to hear more about the insects, I must
begin at once. There is a much greater variety, and
they are far no,:.: beautiful in the Moluccas than in
the West a'dies; but it is too long a journey to take
t.o-n 'gt, so I shall confine myself to some wonderful
bees, and a curious spider that I saw in Jamaica."
"And you will tell us more about insects to-
morrow ?" asked Charlie, eagerly.
I am really afraid there will not be time, I have so
many other things to tell. You ought to hear about
the snakes and the grand old forests, and the grass
that grows higher than many of our English trees,"

42 Stones of the Tropics.

"Oh, how splendid snakes are as good as insects,
aren't they, Alice ? "
I wish you were going to stay here always, uncle.
Couldn't you live here ?" suggested Alice.
"I am afraid not, little woman; but now let me tell
about the bees. My friend Mr. White showed me a
hive in the hollow of an old tree, and as he stood
watching them, two or three settled on his coat. I
was astonished to see him handle them without any
fear. Unwilling to be on the same intimate terms
with them, I stepped back a few paces. Presently
to my great amazement, Mr. White, in the coolest
manner, took up portions of the cells where the young
ones where deposited-the nurseries in fact. Of
course the old nurses were very indignant, and
clustered on his hand in great excitement. 'You
deserve to be well stung for your audacity,' I said,
for I was really angry. 'Yes, I do,' he answered,
quietly, 'but these bees have no sting. They are a
peculiar kind, and I doubt if there is another hive
like this in the island. I am told, however, that they
are less uncommon in the East.' "
But, uncle," said Charlie, bees work in the dark.
How could Mr. White get at the hive? I should
have thought they would have made it low down in
the hole."
"So they did; but a great part of the tree was
cut away, and the cutting just displayed the upper-
most of the brood cells. The honey was stored away
at the bottom of the hive.
Before we say good-bye to Jamaica, I must tell



Brush-footed Spider. 45

you of a splendid spider I saw there; it was an inch
and a half long without its legs, and those, if spread
out, would have covered a dessert plate. Its body is
very beautiful; it is covered with round white spots,
each of which is surrounded by a black border, and
you may imagine how pretty these spots look on a
rich green ground. It has very curious legs, a bunch
of black hair is set round the extremity of the first
and second joints like the bristles of a brush. For
this reason it is called, I believe, the Brush-footed
Spider. Its web is more wonderful than itself.
Some of the threads are twelve feet long, and nearly
as thick as sewing silk ; they are yellow in colour,
and very strong."
I wish, uncle, there were as many beautiful in-
sects here as there are in the tropics," said Alice,
drawing a deep breath.
"I am very glad you cannot have your wish,
Alice ; we should all be starved if you did."
"Starved !" exclaimed Alice, and opened her eyes
in wonder. Charlie thought a minute, and then cried,
I see it! Of course they couldn't live without food,
and there are plenty of trees and vegetables for them
over there; it would never do for them to come here
and eat all ours."
"But still we need not starve," said Alice; "we
could eat mutton, and chickens, and eggs, and-"
But, Alice, what would the poor sheep and fowls
live on ?" asked her father. "It is a very good thing
for us we cannot always have our wishes, they would
often do us serious harm."

Stories of the Tropics.

"That's true, Alice," said her uncle, earnestly.
"It was many years before I found it out, but I
know it now. You may forget all else I have told
you, but remember this, God knows what is best for
us, and God loves us."
"But I knew that before, uncle," said Alice.
"We think we know it, my dear, till trouble
comes "-and as her uncle spoke he took her affec-
tionately on his knee-" but it takes a lifetime to
learn that lesson thoroughly. One of the great
pleasures in studying natural history is that it shows
us so much of God's wonderful wisdom and love.
Every creature He has made is exactly fitted for its
own particular life, and has just the faculties it wants
to make it happy and useful. Its body is suited in
every respect to the place which it inhabits, and a
tropical bird or butterfly could no more live in an
English climate than you or I could live in Venus or
"But tropical plants are brought over to England,"
said Charlie.
"Yes, they can do us no harm, so they are per-
mitted to live an unnatural, half-starved life in
greenhouses. But if it were in our power to bring
tropical insects over too, and keep them alive, there
would, perhaps, be men foolish enough to do it, and
we should soon have a famine in the land."
"Are insects of any real use, uncle ?" asked Alice.
"Yes, my dear, indeed they are. I suppose if
there were no insects there would soon be an end
of all life on this planet."



The Prisoner and the Beetle. 49

"How wonderful, uncle! but do tell us their
I should like you to find some out for yourself.
:harlie will help you, and you can tell me to-morrow
evening. I met with a curious story to-day of an
nsect that saved the life of a naturalist. I will read
t to you, and then I have done for to-night. It is
n Figuier's Insect World.' You will find the book
)n that table, Charlie."
Charlie gave his uncle the book, and he read as
follows, making comments as he went on :-Latreille
that is the name of the French naturalist) was de-
ained at the prison of the Grand Seminaire. In
he same chamber which he occupied there was, at
he time, an old sick bishop whose wounds a surgeon
ame each morning to dress. One day, as the
urgeon was dressing the bishop's wounds, an insect,
ame out of a crack in the boards. Latreille seized
:immediately, examined it, stuck it on a cork with
pin, and seemed enchanted at what he had found.
" Is it a rare insect, then ?" said the surgeon.
"Yes," replied Latreille.
" In that case you should give it to me," said the
"Because I have a friend who has a fine collection
f insects, and he would be very pleased with it."
"Very well," said Latreille, "take him this insect,
1ll him how you came by it, and beg him to tell me
:s name."
The surgeon went quickly to his friend's house.

Stories of the Tropics.

This friend was Bory de Saint Vincent, a naturalist
who became celebrated afterwards, but who was very
young at that time. He already occupied himself
much with the natural sciences, and in particular
with the classification of insects. The surgeon de-
livered the insect to him, but in spite of all his
researches he was unable to discover to what order
it belonged.
Next day the surgeon, having seen Latreille again
in his prison, confessed to him that in his friend's
opinion this coleopteron (that means beetle) had never
been described.
Latreille knew by this answer that Bory de Saint
Vincent was an adept about insects.
As they gave the prisoner neither pen nor paper,
he said to his messenger, "I can see plainly that M.
Bory de Saint Vincent must know my name. You
tell him that I am the Abbe Latreille, and that I am
going to die at Guyana before having published my
Bory, on receiving this piece of news, took active
steps, and obtained leave for Latreille to come out
of his prison as a convalescent, his uncle and his
father being bail for him, and pledging themselves
formally to deliver up the prisoner the moment they
were summoned to do so by the authorities. The
vessel which was to have conducted Latreille to exile,
or rather to death, was getting ready whilst these
steps were being taken. This was quite providential,
for it foundered at sea, all the prisoners perished, and
the sailors alone were able to save themselves. A

Saved by an Insect. 51

little time afterwards his friends managed to have his
name scratched out from the list of exiles.

"So you see this little insect-it was a tiny beetle,
probably not bigger than a pin's head-saved the
life of Latreille."
"I don't like that story so well as yours, uncle,"
said Alice. "There are so many hard words in it,
and those French people have such funny, long
names, that I can't remember them."
But the story had very much interested Charlie,
who borrowed the book and slept with it under his
pillow, so that he might commence reading as soon
as he awoke in the morning.

Living Jewels-Uses of Insects-Alice's Difficulty-Living-
stone and the Lion-A Snake under the Pillow-Snake
Charmers-Adventure with a Python-The Boa Con-
strictor-The Secretary Bird The Ich-
neumon-Rat Snakes The Adjutant -
Jamaica Negroes.

HERE'S a beautiful account of
fire-flies in that book, uncle,"
said Charlie, the next evening; "you
did not tell us half!"
"I only told you what I saw, my
boy," replied his uncle; I have not
read the book; I bought it yesterday,
and was looking through it, when my
attention was caught by the anecdote I
read to you. But I shall be glad to hear what you
have to tell about the fire-flies."
"Well, uncle, it says that, in some countries, people
who have to travel by night and go through dark
forests take the fire-flies and fasten them to their
feet to light them, and to drive away the serpents;
isn't that a grand idea ? "

Living jewels. 53

"I am sorry you have read that, Charlie," said
Alice; "it will make you want to go to those ugly
forests more than ever."
"Well, then there's another thing, uncle," con-
tinued Charlie, not heeding his little sister's anxious
face and pleading tones. "What do you think the
Mexican ladies do ? Now just guess. They dress
themselves up with fire-flies, they do indeed! make
little net bags and stick them about their gowns
when they go to balls, instead of rubies and emeralds.
Must not they look grand ? And they put them in
their hair too. They stick pins under the thorax,
and fasten them in that way; it sounds awfully cruel,
but the book says it does not hurt them. Now what
do you think of that ? Isn't it just like women ?"
Uncle Ned could not help laughing; but Alice,
who had great faith in her mother's judgment, looked
very grave indeed.
Never mind,'Alice, he will know better some day,"
said her uncle; "men are poor creatures at best
without women to help them; and even now I don't
know what Charlie would do without you, Alice."
"No, indeed," said Charlie, warmly; "but then
you know Alice is-is-"
"She is your sister, and that distinguishes her
above all others of her sex-raises her, in fact,
doesn't it, Charlie? "
"Uncle, we have thought of some uses of insects,"
said Charlie, giving a turn to the conversation.
" Alice found out one, and then I found out one.
Tell yours, Alice."

Stories of the Tropics.

"They make food for birds, don't they, uncle ?"
"Yes, indeed they do; if we had no insects we
should soon lose our birds, and that I am sure you
would not like," replied her uncle. Swallows live
on them entirely; I dare say you have noticed them
on the wing pursuing their prey. When the atmo-
sphere is clear and the insects are high the swallows
soar upwards; but when the air is damp and the
insects are low, the swallows just skim the surface of
the earth and water, so one may judge a little of the
weather by the way the swallows fly. Thrushes,
blackbirds, sparrows, and indeed all kinds of birds,
live chiefly on insects in the spring."
"I know why you say spring, uncle," said Alice,
"because the birds will come and peck our cherries
and peaches and gooseberries when they are ripe. I
believe they like fruit best, after all."
"I don't know about that, Alice, but I think they
deserve a little fruit, for we should get none ourselves
if it were not for their exertions."
How is that, uncle ?" asked Alice.
"'Why, my child, there would be such hosts of
insects, if we had no birds, that our gardens would
be quite spoiled, every vegetable and fruit-tree would
be eaten."
"It seems, uncle, as if everything was just right,
doesn't it ?" said the little girl.
"Yes, indeed it is; God has made the world in
such wonderful order and with such perfect wisdom
that I dare say every single insect has its proper work
to do, and contributes in some way or other to our

Uses of Insects. 55

happiness; of course, we do not always know how
they do this, but we are very ignorant, Alice, you and
I, we know next to nothing."
Alice looked at her uncle, and her eyes opened
very wide indeed.
"Oh, uncle, you are not ignorant," she said at
length; "you seem to know everything."
"I am beginning to know one thing, Alice, and
that is that God's wisdom is so great, and His love
so perfect, that where we cannot understand we must
always trust Him. You remember what Jesus Christ
says about God's care for the sparrows-that not one
of them falls to the ground without Him; and then
He went on to say that we, who are His children,
are of more value than many sparrows. God so
loves us that he not only feeds us and keeps us safe
from harm, but He sent His dear Son to die for us,
so that we may trust Him in all things. 'He that
spared not His own Son, but gave Him up to die for
us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us
all things?' We must learn to believe in Him at all
times, and to trust Him in all things."
"We must trust about the wasps, I suppose, uncle,"
said little Alice, simply, "for I don't think even you
can tell me of what use they are." She had lately
been badly stung by a wasp, and remembered the
pain it gave her.
"I suspect we should be terribly annoyed with
the flies if there were no wasps," said her uncle. "I
have heard that the butchers in France are glad
enough of the wasps to drive the flies, off their meat,

Stories of tMe Tropics.

But now, Charlie, what was your thought about the
uses of insects ? Alice says they are food for birds,
and I will add they are food for fish too, for the
water as well as the air is filled with them."
"And you have just found out another use too,
uncle," said Charlie; "that they destroy other insects
that would plague us. Now I think you will say
mine is a capital use, keeping the air pure for us,
because if we had no burying beetles and ants and
such things to put all the nuisances out of sight, I
suppose we should have the plague or something."
"Certainly we should, my boy; we should come to
a speedy end altogether. Well, there are other uses,
which of course you know. Bees give honey and
wax, silkworms spin silk for us, and some insects, as
the cochineal, are useful for dyes ; but these uses are
very small compared with those we have been speak-
ing of."
Alice's face looked very serious, as if she were
considering some important matter. At length she
said, It seems dreadful, uncle, that the insects and
creatures are all preying on each other."
Yes, my dear, that is one of the things about
which we must trust. But we may see -much mercy
even in that, if we think about it a little."
"Why, uncle, how can that be?" exclaimed both
the children.
It was a great puzzle to me once," continued
their uncle; "but when.we consider that in this
world there is death as well as life, and pain as well
as happiness, that 'the whole creation groaneth and

Alice's Diffculty. 57

travaileth,' as St. Paul expresses it, we cease to look
for unmixed enjoyment even in the animal world.
And probably they suffer much less than we suppose.
I imagine they do not know what fear is, the nervous
fear which we feel, and their death is often instan-
taneous, so that I believe they have far more enjoy-
ment than they would have by any other arrange-
"Then you think they like being eaten, uncle ?"
asked Alice, with a sly look at her papa.
"Well, I believe a fly that is eaten by a wasp has
a happier time of it than one that lives on into the
autumn months to get blind, and decrepit, and old."
Uncle, I wonder how you'd like some great giant
to come and eatyoz," said Alice, rather indignantly;
but Charlie, who was much interested in his uncle's
theory, stopped her in his brotherly, abrupt fashion.
"Hush, Alice, don't be silly; it's not the same
thing at all. Insects don't feel as we do."
"To see a cat worrying a mouse is the most
puzzling thing to me," said Mr. Stone.
"It looks cruel, but I dare say the mouse is happy
all the time," observed Uncle Ned, with the greatest
Of course he was immediately called on to give a
reason for this very remarkable statement.
"If you will fetch Mr. Wood's book from the
library, Charlie," he said-" that big book about
animals, on the lowest shelf near the window-I will
read you what he says about it."
"What a dear, wise uncle you are," said Alice,

58 Storzes of the Tropics.

coaxingly, when Charlie was gone for the book;
"you find some good reason for everything; and I
believe you'll make me want to be a mouse in a
minute or two." So saying, she skipped away to get
her uncle's spectacles from a side-table, for the child
had a wonderful faculty of finding out and supplying
the wants of others, which had earned her the name
of the little fairy.
Then her uncle read:-
"By some merciful and most marvellous provision,
the mode of whose working is at present hidden, the
sense of pain is driven out from the victim as soon
as it is seized or struck by its destroyer. The first
person who seems to have taken this view of the
case was Livingstone, the well-known traveller, who
learned the lesson by personal experience. After
describing an attack made upon him by a lion, he
'Starting and looking half round, I saw the lion
just in the act of springing on me. I was upon a
little height; he' caught my shoulder as he sprang,
and we both came down to the ground below together.
Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a
terrier dog does a rat. The shock produced a stupor
similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse
after the first shake of the cat. It causes a sort
of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of fain
or feeling of terror, though I was quite conscious of
all that was happening. It was like what patients
partially under the influence of chloroform describe,
who see all the operation, but feel not the knife.


A Tiger Story.

This singular condition was not the result of any
mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and
allowed no sense of horror in looking at the beast.
This peculiar state is probably produced in all
animals killed by the carnivora; and, if so, is a
merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for
lessening the pain of death.'
This fearful experience is, although most valuable,
not a solitary one, and is made more valuable by that
very fact. I am acquainted with a similar story by
an officer of the Indian army, a German nobleman by
birth, who, while in Bengal, was seized and carried
away by a tiger. He described the whole scene in
much the same language as that of Livingstone,
saying that, as far as the bodily senses were con-
cerned, the chief sensation was that of a pleasant
drowsiness, rather admixed with curiosity as to the
manner in which the brute was going to eat him.
Only by his reasoning powers, which remained un-
shaken, could he feel that his position was one of
almost helpless danger, and that he ought to attempt
escape. Perhaps in so sudden and overwhelming a
shock, the mind may be startled for a time from its
hold upon the nerves, and be, so to speak, not at
home to receive any impression from the nervous
system. Many men have fallen into the jaws of these
fearful beasts, but very few have survived to tell their
tale." *
"There, now that I have two such men as Living-
stone and Mr. Wood on my side, I hope you will not
Wood's Natural History-Mammalia.

Stories of the Tropics.

think my theory altogether a fancy; I am convinced
of its truth myself."
But Charlie's whole mind was taken up with Dr.
Livingstone's wonderful adventure.
How did Livingstone get away, uncle ? asked
"Mr. Wood says nothing about that," replied his
uncle, "but I have read the story in Livingstone's
own work, and, if I remember rightly the lion left
him to attack another man whom he saw at a little
distance trying to shoot him. He bit this man in the
leg, but happily the bullets which had been fired at
the lion took effect before he had killed anybody."
This story reminded Charlie that his uncle could
tell of escapes and adventures from his own personal
Oh, uncle," he cried, "papa told us once that
when you were in Ceylon you slept all night with a
great serpent in your bed, and you didn't find it out
till morning. Do tell us about it."
It's quite true, Charlie; I have had more than
one narrow escape from a serpent. I lay with a
cobra under my pillow all one night without knowing
it, though several times I fancied I felt something
move. In the morning, to my horror, when I re-
moved the pillow, I saw the creature's green, glitter-
ing eyes staring at me. Fortunately, I had lain still;
if I had been restless my bed-fellow would soon have
darted at my throat."
"Would he have killed you, uncle ?" asked Alice

Escape from a Cobra. 63

"Yes, indeed; I should never have recovered from
a wound such as he could inflict, for cobras have the
most terrible poison fangs. Happily they are of a
sluggish disposition, and are not easily roused."

"I suppose you killed him, uncle ?" said Charlie
much excited.
"I did, indeed. I got my chopping-knife and
gave him first a knock on the head, then I chopped


Stories of the Tropics.

him across the back. But I was on guard the next
night, I assure you."
"And did you find another ?"
"Not under my pillow, but I carefully looked all
round the house as well as inside, for they say if one
is destroyed its companion is sure to be at hand to
avenge its death; and I did find another close to the
house, and put an end to him."
"Charlie, I hope you will never go to Ceylon," said
Alice, earnestly.
"The Indians tame these cobras," continued her
uncle, "and have no fear of them. They carry the
snakes about in a basket, and when the performance
commences they open the lid, and out creeps the
snake. Then the man, who is called a snake
charmer, sings a kind of monotonous song, or plays
on a little instrument like a flute, which he carries
about with him, and the snake begins to move its
body in the most graceful manner, as if it were danc-
ing. It has a peculiar neck, which is the same size
as the head when at rest; but when excited or
irritated the neck swells, and it raises the fore part of
its body in a pretty, undulating manner."
"Don't use such long words, uncle, please," said
"I hardly know a shorter word to express my
meaning, dear. Undulating means up and down, this
way," and her uncle moved his hand to imitate the
motion of waves.
"I have read of a gentleman," he continued, who
allowed an Indian to exhibit a snake of this kind to

f -


Adz'cnlz re with a Python.. 67

him while he painted it. The Indian handled it
without the smallest fear, and the gentleman sup-
posed that its poison fangs had been extracted. So
he took hold of it himself to examine more closely
the beauty of its spots. He heard afterwards, how-
ever, that the very snake he had been handling killed
a young woman only the next day."
"Oh, uncle, how horrible !" exclaimed Alice, "I
wonder it did not bite him. But do tell us about
your other adventure."
My other escape was from a python, an immense
creature that has no poison fangs, but can twist itself
round the body of a man and crush. it. One of these
monsters I once saw coiled round the posts of the
verandah where I had been taking an afternoon
How did you kill him, uncle ?" asked Charlie.
"I-was obliged to get help for that. One of my
men made a strong noose with a rope, and poked at
the python with a long pole. Then he managed to
get the noose round his body, and dragged him down.
Having done this, he cleverly caught hold of his tail,
dashed his head against a tree, and finished him up
with a hatchet."
What a clever fellow !" said Charlie, admiringly.
"How long was the snake ?"
"About ten or eleven feet. My man luckily had
been a good deal in snake countries, and was used to
Eleven feet! Why that creature must have been
as big as you and papa together, if papa were stand-

68 Stories of the Tropics.

ing on your head, uncle. Only think of that, Alice ?"
exclaimed Charlie, delighted.
There is another snake of the same species as the

': .- .., ", t -~'l ''"". i.

,. :
r ,, ,. .. .. .
~.; \ .j, -.:,", _

l,. .,. -.,
python. It is called the Boa Constrictor, because it
kills its prey, as the python does, by pressure or con-
striction. This reptile is found in the tropical parts

The Boa Consiriclor.

of America, and has been known, it is said, to attain
the length of thirty feet. Its skin is very beautifully
marked with a number of large black and pale white
spots. The ancient inhabitants of Mexico worshipped
the boa, and called it 'king' and 'emperor,' and be-
cause of its terrible size and nature, regarded it as
"Are all snakes poisonous ?" asked Alice. "I
mean all except pythons; they crush people, and
that is quite as bad."
I hope they don't often crush people, my child,
but they have been known to kill even buffaloes
sometimes, they are so fearfully strong. The one I
saw was quite a small one, they are often double the
size. But many snakes are not poisonous at all; in
fact, most of them are perfectly harmless."
I wish snakes had as many enemies as the poor
termites," said Alice.
"They have enemies, I assure you," replied her
uncle. "The secretary bird is one of them. I had
the good fortune once to see a contest between this
bird and a snake-not a python, Alice-for the
secretary himself is only about three feet long. I
was not very near, but fortunately I had an opera
glass with me, which assisted my sight and brought
the whole scene before me. It was in South Africa.
I had taken out my glass to look at some object,
and my attention was arrested by the extraordinary
movements of a bird, which I recognized as the secre-
tary. Knowing his habits, I guessed that a snake
was within his reach, and I soon found my conjecture

70 Stories of the Tropics.

was correct. The bird was making a series of the
most extraordinary hops to prevent his enemy's
escape. Every time the snake tried to get back to
its hole, the bird made a movement in the same
direction to cut off its retreat. At length the poor
snake, finding it could not get away, prepared to
make a spring on its tormentor. It half raised itself,
and with swelling head and glittering eyes hissed


,.I '"'*. "s -. -

"Uncle, if you were so far away, you couldn't hear
it," said Charlie.
No, but it is the custom of serpents to hiss when
they are angry, so don't interrupt my narrative, sir.
Well, the bird protected himself with one wing, and
struck at the snake with the other, till at last it was
quite stunned and exhausted. Then Mr. Secretary
gave it a powerful blow with his beak, split its head
asunder, and swallowed the creature before I put
down my eye-glass."


-~M"c- I

The Secretary Bird. 73

"Oh, uncle, I wish I had been there," said Charlie,
"those secretaries must have pretty strong wings."
"Yes, and the wings are furnished with horny
protuberances like little clubs, with which the bird
beats his enemies."
"Why is he called the secretary bird, uncle?"
asked Alice.
The tufts of feathers at the back of his head have
given rise to his name. They have been thought to

.. -- 4 .- .4 .

resemble pens behind his ear, but he is more of a
warrior than a scholar."
"Yes, I am sure he is a brave warrior ; I like him
for killing those horrid snakes," said Alice.
"The snakes have more formidable enemies still;
the adjutant and the ichneumon. The adjutant is
a very large bird, about six feet high, and the
ichneumon is an animal rather like an immense rat.
It leaps on the serpent's back, and kills him by
fastening its sharp teeth in his head."

74 Stories of the Tropics.

"I have been thinking snakes could not possibly
be of any use," said Alice, but I suppose they make
food for these creatures."
Yes, and they do good service in their lives also,"
said her uncle. What do you think of people
keeping snakes in their houses, and making pets of
them ?"
"Do they now, really, uncle ?" said Alice.
I have heard of such things; in fact, I have seen
rat-snakes kept as pets in Ceylon. These snakes,
however, are perfectly harmless. But what do you
think of a cobra, that poisonous creature, being kept
as a protector, instead of a dog?"
Oh, uncle, I can hardly believe it," said Alice.
"It does seem hard to believe, indeed, but the
fact rests on good authority. It is said that when
domesticated they glide about the house, doing no
harm to the inmates, and frightening away thieves.
The snakes are really very useful in destroying
vermin, and the rat-snake has acquired its name
from its dexterity in catching rats."
"Well, uncle, I think I will never say anything is
useless again," said Alice. If snakes are some good
in the world, I shall have hopes of everybody." Her
uncle laughed, but applauded his little niece's wise
Uncle, you spoke of the adjutant just now," said
Charlie, "is it not a kind of stork ?"
Yes, my boy, it is; I have read an amusing story
of an adjutant somewhere, which I will tell you. It
was a tame bird belonging to a chief in some tropical

Story of an Adjutant. 75

island. It used always to present itself at dinner-
time, and take its place behind its master's chair.
The servants used to watch it, and beat it off if it

/. --- "' O'-\ .... "

tried to help itself to the delicacies on the table;
'but one day it snatched a fowl, and swallowed it in
a moment. It used to fly about the island and roost
among the silk-cotton trees, and from thence it would

Stories of the Tropics.

watch when the dinner was being carried across the
court, and get home in time to join its master at
Oh, uncle, how could it swallow the fowl whole ?"
asked Alice. What a wonderful bird it must be!"
"It is an immense bird, my dear. It is nearly as
tall as I am, and it thinks nothing of swallowing a
cat or a fox whole."
Alice, who was very fond of cats, thought this
much more unpardonable than helping itself to the
chicken at table. I wonder the cat does not stick
in its throat. I wish it would next time," said she.
"How did the chief manage to tame it ?" asked
"I believe they are not at all difficult to tame,"
replied his uncle; "they soon become very sociable."
"If it has a long neck like a stork," resumed Alice,
who could not forget its cruelty to her pets, "I
should think the cat would stick in its throat some
"But it has a short neck, my dear. It is like the
stork in its long bill and long legs, and I believe
it belongs to the same family-the herons."
"Uncle, that's a good plan," said Alice, "to give
them all a sort of surname to make us remember
them better."
"Well, the cranes, herons, bitterns, spoonbills, and
storks, are all classed by naturalists under the Latin
name Ardea, meaning, 'of the heron kind-'; and the
adjutant is a sort of fourth cousin, I suppose. I hope
they are proud of their tall relative."

yamaica Negroes. 77

"I'm sure I shouldn't be proud of him if he does
such cruel things," said Alice.
"Uncle, is it true that some snakes have two
heads ? asked Charlie. "I am sure I have heard
of a two-headed snake."
"No, it is only that the tail bears a fancied re-
semblance to a head; the name is a misleading one.
I see, Charlie, you want to bring me back to the
snakes, but I think we have had enough for to-night,
we shall have little Alice dreaming about them. Let
us talk about the little harmless lizards which are so
pretty and playful; I shall have a great deal to tell
you about them."
I am afraid you must reserve it till to-morrow,
then, Ned," said Mr. Stone. "Alice looks tired and
ready for bed ; she is quite pale to-night."
"The truth is, my cat story was an injudicious one.
Let me tell her another to put it out of her head,
and she will sleep all the better."
"Well, uncle," said Charlie, "don't begin the
lizards to-night, because you must not hurry over
them. I know they will want nearly a whole even-
ing to themselves, with frogs and toads, and such
"So they will, Charlie. What must my story be,
then?" and Uncle Ned threw back his head and
closed his eyes in thought.
"Tell us something about the black people, uncle
-the negroes in Jamaica," suggested Charlie.
Happy thought !" responded his uncle. I can
tell you an anecdote I read in Trollope's book which

78 Stories of the Tropics.

I can quite believe from my own observation of their
love of dress. Mr. Anthony Trollope has been to
Jamaica and has written a book about his travels in
the West Indies. He says that one Sunday he was
riding to church with a friend, when he noticed a
negro girl walking either to or from church. She
was dressed in white from head to foot, and looked
very grand indeed. Her gloves, parasol, hat, lace,
and bugles, were all white, and she walked with
great dignity. Behind her walked an attendant,
carrying her prayer-book on her head. 'Who is that
princess?' asked Mr. Trollope of his friend. 'They
are two girls who work in my mill,' answered the
gentleman; 'they are sisters, and take it in tirns to
act the fine lady on Sunday. Next Sunday they
will change places, and your princess will walk be-
hind in common clothes with the prayer-book, while
her sister will be attired in white, and step with
queenly dignity, enjoying a delightful sense of her
own grandeur and importance.'"
Alice laughed very much at this anecdote, and said
she should like to hear more about the black people
some day. Then she went off to bed, and had a
confused dream of the black princess walking along
with a cat on her head, and being swallowed alive
by a "great big stork," as she told her uncle the
next day.

Indian Rice Fields- The Rice Bird-Sago-Tapioca-Indian
Corn-Mahogany-Cotton-Pepper and Nutmeg.

SHE children had nearly done
:441 0 their dinner the next day when
F i-li!, Uncle Ned came in from a
walk. The table-cloth was not
'-- removed, and Alice was finishing
Sher rice pudding, while Charlie's
iJ face wore a look of thoughtful
V. consideration.
S'i' ,- I say, Alice," he began, with
,-' "- the air of one who has made a
grand discovery, I can see five
things on this very table that have come from the
Alice gave an admiring look at her brother.
"Five, Charlie! There's the pepper; that's hot
enough for anything. But what else? You mustn't
count mustard, you know, for we grow that in our
own gardens, with our names on it."
"You should say we form our names with the
mustard seed ; our names don't grow on it," corrected
her brother. But I am not counting the mustard.

Stories of the Tropics.

Where does your rice pudding come from ?-and my
sago ?-and the sugar ? I vote we get uncle to tell
us how they all look as they are growing."
"But, Charlie, you have only said four things now
- pepper, sugar, rice, and sago; what can the other
"Why, the table-cloth, to be sure!" answered
Charlie, triumphantly; "isn't that made of cotton ?"
"I am afraid not, Charlie," said his uncle; "it
looks more like linen, I think, and that, you know, we
get from flax, which we grow at home. But Alice's
frock will do as well, though it is not on the table;
and if the table-cloth does not come from the tropics,
you have the comfort of knowing that it rests on a
tropical tree."
Oh, the mahogany tree exclaimed Charlie.
"Do tell us all about it."
"Which shall I begin with ? "
"The rice pudding, please, uncle; because it will
soon be gone, and I want to look at it while you are
talking," said little Alice.
By way of assisting the imagination ?" asked her
"To make your story a real one, Ned," said her
papa, who was looking on with an amused expression.
Yes, I believe you all take me to be a romancer
instead of a steady, common-place, matter-of-fact old
proser as I am."
"You are not old, at any rate, uncle," said Alice;
I am sure you are not twenty-two yet."
This assertion made every one laugh, for her uncle

Indian Rice-Fields. 8

was at least fifty; but children's ideas on the subject
of age are somewhat vague.
"Well, my child, I will begin, and tell you about
the rice fields which I saw in India."
Not the West Indies, you know, Alice," explained
Charlie. India is in Asia; it is only another name
for Hindostan."
"Oh, uncle, you have been nearly all over the
world," said Alice.
"Not quite, my love; but don't interrupt me, or
we shall never get through our five subjects."
"And a lot more I've got in my mind," said
Charlie, half to himself. Now, Alice, be quiet."
"The rice-fields I saw in India," continued Uncle
Ned, lie very low, and are supplied by nature with
abundance of water, being situated in marshy ground.
In one part of the year, during the heavy rains, a
rice-field will appear a per-
fect swamp; you could see
nothing but mud, through
which buffaloes are perhaps
wading, or herons stalking.
But-three or four months i_
later on you see a waving
cornfield, looking very much '
like our barley. The cultiva- '-
tion of rice is unhealthy ; the
alternate flooding and drying RICE PLINT.
of the land produces fever, which kills many of the
poor negroes who work on it."
I thought the rivers overflowed, uncle, and the

82 Slories of the Tropics.

rice grew on their bank," remarked Charlie, anxious
to show his learning.
You are quite right. These are the best rice-
fields," replied his uncle; but there are others that
depend on the rains only, and others again that are
artificially watered, for rice cannot grow without an
immense quantity of water. It is a very fruitful plant,
and yields a much more abundant harvest than ourcorn.
The natives almost live upon it, and call it paddy."
I have heard of the rice-bird, uncle. Is that a
bird that feeds on rice? asked Charlie.
"Yes, it has another name, the 'Java sparrow.' It
would amuse you to see how they frighten away
these birds. They put cords in every direction across
the field, to which are attached the most comical
scarecrows. The cords all converge to the middle of
the field, where there is a watch-house built on high
poles. The watchman in his den moves the cords
from time to time, and that sets all the scarecrows in
motion, and frightens the poor little birds, who fly
away fast enough."
"Oh, what fun! I should like to be the watch-
man," said Alice.
"Not for long, I fancy. But now, before the sago
pudding is taken away, we must talk about that."
I suppose it is just like rice and corn," said Alice,
so I don't much care about it."
No, indeed! Sago is the pith of a palm-tree.
You have been eating pith-pudding, Charlie."
"Oh, do give me a little now, that I may taste it,"
said Alice.

The Sago Palm. 83

"You must remember cook has mixed it with
other things-'sugar and spice and all that's nice,' "
said Charlie, in a sudden burst of what he called
"poetical inspiration."
Have you seen the sago tree growing ?-is it
tall ? asked Alice.
"Its leaves are two or three times as long as your
papa, my dear, so you may imagine it is a good
height. I have seen many, and I was lucky enough
to see the whole preparation too while I was in
Ceram. The sago palm is like rice in one thing,
Alice; it requires a great deal of water, and grows in
swamps. When the tree is about twelve or fifteen
years old it flowers, and this is a sign it is going to
die. They cut it down just before it flowers, and make
the sago. They clear away the leaves and branches,
take a broad strip of bark off the upper side of the
trunk, and then cut and break up the pith. This they
do with an instrument made on purpose for the
operation. It is a club with a bit of sharp quartz at
the end. With this they clear out all the pith; then
they wash it and separate the starch from the fibre,
which is thrown away."
"They shouldn't throw away starch, uncle," said
Alice, gravely, "it's a very useful thing; but perhaps
they don't want to stiffen their collars and frocks
out there."
It is the fibre they throw away my child," said
her uncle, "because it has no nourishment; it is like
thread, you know ; the starch is put up very carefully
in bundles to be eaten."

Stories of the Tropics.

Oh, uncle, now you surely are laughing at me!"
said the child.
"No, indeed, many of the things you eat contain
a good deal of starch. Sugar is chiefly composed
of starch, and there is a good deal also in potatoes,
carrots, parsnips, and flour. Starch is very nourish-
ing. Sago, I suppose, is mainly composed of it."
"Oh, uncle, you tell us such wonderful things,"
said Alice; "I should get quite learned, only my
head will never hold it all."
"I mean to make notes," said Charlie. "I shall
begin to-night."
"But, uncle," continued Alice, "starch alone, and
water, like Sarah starches the collars with, would not
be very nice."
The raw sago boiled in water must be very like
that stuff," said Uncle Ned; "but the natives eat it
with salt and limes, and add a little spice sometimes
to make it more agreeable."
"What are limes, uncle ?"
"A kind of lemon, only smaller, and the juice is
very delicious. Sago cakes are very nice, and they
are made in this way: the raw sago is broken up and
dried in the sun, then powdered and sifted. The people
have ovens on purpose for baking these cakes, and
they are made and cooked in about five minutes, when
the sago is ready-that is, dried and refined. You
would like the hot cakes very much, especially when
a little sugar and grated cocoa-nut are mixed with the
powder before baking. But you would not be in-
dulged with fresh cakes every day. Most of the sago

Tapioca and Maize.

used in the island is made into biscuits-that is, the
cakes are dried in the sun for several days. In this
state they will keep for years. They are a little hard
and rough, but I used to dip mine in water and toast
them, and in that way they were very eatable."
Is tapioca pudding pith too, uncle ? asked Alice.
"No, that is the root of a curious tree, called the
cassava; it grows in Brazil and other parts of tropical
America. The strange thing is, that the very same
tree which gives this wholesome food produces at the
same time a most dreadful poison. In order to
prepare the tapioca, they have to draw out first the
poisonous juice, which is easily done. All they have
to do is to cut the root into small pieces, and expose
these to the heat of the sun. If any animal were to
drink the juice that has just been extracted from the
tree, it would die; but the same juice, after being
kept awhile, is often boiled I
with meat, and makes quite a
nice soup.".
"Why, uncle, how can that '
"It is the effect of heat,
which draws out the poison.
The sun is a wonderful puri-
fier." ,
"I suppose you have seen ,.-
the Indian corn grow, uncle ?" -
said Charlie; "the maize, I MAIZE.
mean, that we give to our fowls."
"Yes, I have; it is a great deal more productive

86 Stories of the Tropics. '

than our corn. Instead of getting twenty grains for
one, as we do, they often get from three to four
hundred. The Indians eat it. It is prepared in
various ways; sometimes they grind it into meal
and make a hasty-pudding of it, sometimes a cake.
Before the grain is ripe and hard, there are several
ways of using it. The tender green ears, stripped
of their leaves and roasted by a quick fire, are con-
sidered quite a delicacy eaten with a little salt or
butter. I have tasted a kind of beer, too, that was
made from it, but it was horribly bitter stuff."
"I don't think plants and trees are so interesting
as living creatures, are they, uncle ?" said Alice,
rather wearily.
"Yet they are living creatures," answered her uncle.
"Yes, but you know what I mean."
"Oh, I know you are longing to hear about the
lizards and ostriches and crocodiles and lions and
tigers and monkeys, and there will be very little time
left for them all. So I must finish up our subjects
as shortly as I can without any more digressions.
Tapioca and maize are not on the table, you know."
"No, we have done rice and sago," said Charlie;
"now there are four-no, five more-for there's the
nutmeg in the pudding."
Don't sigh, Alice," said her uncle, I won't keep
you long with these; and to-night we will have the
lizards, yes, and ostriches, too, if we have time."
With one bound Alice was off her -chair and on
her uncle's knee, her arms round his neck.
"Oh, Uncle Ned, how kind you are!" she said;

The Makogany Tree.

'what should we do without you ? Fancy, Charlie,
two tropics in one day."
"Rather hot and strong," remarked her papa.
"Why, Ned, while these children are in the house, I
am nobody at all. It is a good thing they go to
bed sometimes. I shall put on the clock to-night
an hour or two."
Alice looked at her papa to see whether he meant
it, and decided that he did not, so she said nothing.
Now, uncle, let's go in for the mahogany-tree,"
said Charlie.
I can only tell you that it has a pretty, light-
coloured foliage, and is very valuable. I have heard
of the wood of a single tree costing more than twelve
hundred pounds before passing into the hands of the
Oh, uncle, how could that be ?" asked Alice.
It was a specially fine one, no doubt; but you
must remember that the cost of felling and carrying
over to England and sawing a very large tree would
be considerable."
"Then our table must be almost wortli its weight
in gold," said Alice, "for it's real mahogany."
But it's not all mahogany. Don't you know how
they manage ?" said Charlie. "They veneer-but
you won't understand that word. I mean, they make
the table of some common wood, and they put just a
thin slip of mahogany over it. Here, you can see
where this bit has been chipped off the sideboard."
"Oh, what a good plan," said Alice; "a tree cut
up like that in thin slices would make a good many

88 Stories of the Tropics.

sideboards and tables and beds and chairs too,
wouldn't it, uncle? But now for the table-cloth-
no, that is linen. Well, my cotton frock, then; we
must have the cotton-plant next."


You can see that in the Kensington Museum, so
I need not spend much time in describing it. The
flowers are yellow and sometimes white,-with a purple
centre, in shape rather like a convolvulus. The cotton
fields look very pretty in the autumn, with their dark

Pe~per and Nutmeg. 89

foliage and white and yellow flowers mixed with the
white down of the cotton from the half-open pod.
The poor negroes have to work hard then, for it is
important to get the cotton early, before its colour
is injured by the heat of the sun. Besides, the wind
would soon scatter it all about if it were not plucked
in good time."
"Now for the pepper and nutmeg, and then we

-' T "- "" '\

i^ '[L &i

have done," said Charlie, "for I can tell Alice all
about sugar just as well as if I had been in the West
Indies myself. Besides, papa has told us, and all
about coffee and tea too, for he talks to us at break-
fast when you are not here, Uncle Ned."
I dare say if you dined with your papa every day
I should not have been able to give you much fresh
information about rice and sago."
"But still they seem more real when you talk about
them," said Alice, "because you have seen them, and
papa has not."

90 Stories of the Trofics.

"Well, now for a walk in a pepper plantation,
Alice. You must fancy you see a number of trees
with straight tall stems ; these are not pepper-plants,
they are mangoes, and they support the pepper vines
which twine round them. The leaf of the pepper
vine is like ivy; the blossoms appear in June; they
are small, and of a greenish-white. These are suc-
ceeded by berries which grow like currants on little
stalks in bunches. The nutmeg is a tree about fifty
feet high. I suppose
you know that the
mace comes from the

7 rounds the shell of the
nut. The nutmeg grows
rather like a walnut,
being surrounded by
a sort of spongy coat.
SWhen this bursts it dis-
Scloses a shining black
a. THE RIPE FRUIT, BURST. nut encased in a bright
b. THE MACE. C. NUTMEG ALONE. scarlet network."
Oh, I know, that network is mace," said Charlie;
"but it loses its colour when it is dried. Well, uncle,
I am glad you came in to-day, while we were having
our dinner, it's so stupid to eat things like pigs with-
out knowing whether they are roots or seeds or pith."
"Charlie, I've got something in my mind," said
Alice ; but I won't tell you till we get upstairs."

Gorillas-Capture of Master Joe-Escape from a Croco-
dile-Sleeping on a Crocodile-Geckos-Anoles-The
HE children were longer than usual that
evening before they made their appear-
ance at dessert, and when they did
come down they were transformed into
two little Indians. Faces and hands were
blackened with burnt cork, and Alice wore
a turban, which well concealed her shining
auburn hair. Charlie's dark curly locks
suited his new character very well. He had dressed
himself like an Indian chief, with coloured rags, beads,
shells, and feathers stuck about him in the most
miscellaneous manner; and Alice, in a plain white
frock, with necklace and bracelets of large coloured
beads, and a white turban setting off her darkened
face, made a perfect little Indian girl.
They refused every fruit except dates, would not
speak a word of English, and offered their uncle, by
signs, a strange-looking compound, which Charlie
carried in a saucer and sipped from time to time
with apparent satisfaction.
Alice's nurse, who had tried to fill to her the place

92 Stories of the Tropics.

of the mother she had lost at her birth, and who de-
lighted in helping on all Master Charlie's "grand ideas,"
stood a few moments at the door enjoying the scene.
If you please, sir, that's thin starch," she explained
to her master in an undertone; "it's just flavoured
with lemon-juice and nutmeg, and Master Charles
would insist upon it that it was the proper food for
Indians; but I'm afraid it will make Miss Alice sick."
"They won't eat much of it, nurse, you may
depend," said her master, soothingly. Then turning
to his brother, This comes of 'two tropics' in one
day. You've turned my children into savages, Ned."
Charlie," whispered Alice to her brother, "I think
we had better speak English, because papa and uncle
wouldn't understand our real Indian, you know."
Yes, perhaps we had," said Charlie, condescend-
"Now, uncle, haven't we done it well? Alice
wanted me to make the raw sago, and I said we had
better be Indians at once, and do the whole thing;
and so here we are, and I only wish there was a
forest near, for I feel equal to anything."
"Even to confronting a gorilla ?" said his uncle.
"Oh! uncle, have you seen one?" asked Charlie,
in great excitement.
"No, I have not, sir; I don't possess your enter-
prising spirit quite to the same extent, and am
content to read about them."
"I saw a picture of one once," said Charlie; "it
was horribly like a wild man. But, oh I should like
to hear about them."

Go-illas. 93

"Bring that brown paper parcel to me, Charlie,"
said his uncle. "Dear me!" he continued looking
at it with a puzzled expression, "it is directed to
Master Charles Stone."
Charlie's eyes glistened, and I suspect his cheeks
turned very red, though that did not show through
the burnt cork.
"Why, it's 'Du Chaillu's Adventures in Africa,'
the very book I've been wanting for ever so long.
I know there's no end of fun in it," said Charlie.
"I just saw it once for two or three minutes, and
oh how I did long to have it!"
Charlie, I believe uncle's given it you," said Alice,
in a whisper; and then half apologising to her uncle:
"He's too much taken up with it to thank you,
uncle; but he will presently."
"Oh, I forgot; but I can't thank you properly. I
never was so happy in my life," said Charlie.
"Well, my boy, your pleasure is the best thanks
I can have," said his uncle; "and Alice looks as
pleased as you do."
It's just the same as if you had given it me, you
know, uncle; and I do like to see Charlie happy,"
said Alice.
"You will find a most amusing story of a young
gorilla that was taken alive and brought to Du
Chaillu. He says when he saw the little brute being
dragged towards him, he felt rewarded for all the
hardships he had gone through in Africa, and I am
sure they were many."
Oh, uncle, do just read us this one story," begged

94 Stories of the Tropics.

Charlie, "because you know the tropics would not
be perfect without a gorilla."
"But, before you begin, please tell me what a
gorilla is," said Alice.
It is a very large ape, which is found in tropical
Africa. It is about as tall as a man, and is thought
by many of the Africans to be a wild man and not
a brute. They think it gets into the woods, and
pretends to be dumb and stupid in order to escape
work. The one that was brought to Du Chaillu was
a young male, between two and three years old. It
was two feet and a half high. But I shall spoil the
story if I attempt to give it in my own words, so
you shall have Du Chaillu's own spirited description
of Master Joe, as he called him.
Then Uncle Ned opened the book and began to
read :-" When I had the little fellow safely locked
in his cage (he had made a bamboo cage for him), I
ventured to approach to say a few encouraging words
to him. He stood in the farthest corner, but as I
approached bellowed and made a precipitate rush at
me, and though I retreated as quickly as I could,
succeeded in catching my trouser-legs, which he
grasped with one of his feet and tore, retreating
immediately to the corner farthest away. This
taught me caution for the present, though I had a
hope still to be able to tame him. He sat in his
corner looking wickedly out of his grey eyes, and I
never saw a more morose or more ill-tempered face
than had this little beast.
"The first thing was of course to attend to the


Master 7oe. 97

wants of my captive. I sent for some of the forest
berries which these animals are known to prefer, and
placed these and a cup of water within his reach.
He was exceedingly shy, and would neither eat nor
drink till I had removed to a considerable distance.
The second day found Joe fiercer than the first;
he rushed savagely at any one who stood even for a
moment near his cage, and seemed ready to tear us
all to pieces. I threw him to-day some pineapple
leaves, of which I noticed he ate only the white parts.
There seemed no difficulty about his food, though he
refused now, and continued during his short life to
refuse, all food except such wild leaves and fruits as
were gathered from his native woods for him.
"The third day he was still morose and savage,
bellowing when any person approached, and either
retiring to a distant corner or rushing to attack.
On the fourth day, while no one was near, the
little rascal succeeded in forcing apart two of the
bamboo rails which composed his cage, and made
his escape. I came up just as his flight was dis-
covered, and immediately got all the negroes together
for pursuit, determining to surround the wood and
recapture my captive. Running into the house to
get one of my guns, I was startled by an angry growl
issuing from under my low bedstead. It was Master
Joe, who lay there hid, but anxiously watching my
movements. I instantly shut the windows, and called
to my people to guard the door.
"When Joe saw the crowd of black faces he be-
came furious, and, with his eyes glaring, and every

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