Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Youth's Department.

LOBSTERS.

BY ANNE P. ADAMS.

“ God has made nothing worthy of contempt."

66

OH,
H, Aunt Ellen," said little Louisa Stuart, running into the parlor

where her aunt sat sewing, with flushed cheeks, and eyes much larger than usual, “ Thomas has brought in the oddest-looking thing in the world in his market basket. Do tome and see what it is !"

"I think I know what it is, dear, without going to look at it. I told Thomas to bring home a lobster for dinner.”

A lobster, Aunt Ellen! Is that horrid-looking creature a lobster? And are you really going to have it for dinner? I wouldn't taste of it for the world.”

My little niece is rather extravagant in her expressions, I think. When she sees the lobster nicely dressed, upon the table, she may find it hard to decline eating a piece.”

Oh, aunt, I am sure nothing could make me taste of it. When I saw it in the basket I was frightened, it is such a horrid-looking creature! Thomas wanted to show it to me, but I didn't want to see it; I ran away as fast as I could.”

“ That was very foolish, my little girl ; it would have done you no harm. A lobster is a very curious object, though not, I gut, a very handsome one. Come and sit by me, dear, and I will tell you something about the lobster which will make you curious to examine the singular house he lives in, instead of running in terror from the sight of it.”

" What do you mean, aunt, by the house he lives in ?" “ I mean the hard, red shell which you saw.”

" Is that his house ? how queer!" said Louisa, her bright face expressing keen curiosity and interest.

Yes, dear, that is really the house in which the lobster lives. And, like some very genteel families, he changes his habitation every year.” Why, Aunt Ellen, how strange! Doesn't he grow to his shell ?"

[blocks in formation]

a

“Yes, and that is the reason for his throwing it off. He grows too large for it.”

Oh, his house is too small, and he goes into a larger one !"
Exactly so. This change of habitation costs the

poor

lobster great deal of pain, and subjects him to every kind of danger. He throws himself upon his back, and after a succession of convulsive movements, and swelling the body to an unusual size, the shell begins to divide, and is finally quite thrown off. And what is very curious, the animal seems to be turned inside out, for its stomach comes away with its shell. After this he is for some hours so weak and feeble that he remains quite motionless. Many lobsters die under the operation of casting the shell, it is so very painful, and hundreds of others are devoured by the codfish, dogfish, or other enemies, while in this defenseless state. For a day or two the poor houseless lobster is so weak that he takes no food, but at the end of that time the skin that covers his body has become nearly as hard as before. He shows signs of hunger, and the first delicacy that tempts his returning appetite is his own stomach, which he eagerly devours. It is said that sometimes he even eats his own cast-off shell. In about forty-eight hours the lobster's new house is as firm and substantial as the old one, and he is again fitted to defend himself from his enemies.

• When he has become settled in his new house, it is found, on comparing it with the old one, to be about one third larger, and one is puzzled to know how he managed to find elbow room in such close quarters. The lobster is not a very peaceable animal. In his frequent contests with his neighbors it is not unusual for him to lose a joint, or even a whole claw. But even this does not avail to amend his disposition. He retires vanquished from the field, and while his victor feasts at leisure upon his old claw, he waits patiently in some retired place for the growth of a new one. In about three weeks this becomes almost as large and strong as the old one.

It never attains to the full size."

“Where do lobsters live, Aunt Ellen ?"

“ They live in the sea, and can live but a few hours out of it. Fishermen take them in what they call a' pot,' made of wicker-work, into which they put the bait, and throw it into the sea where the water is from thirty to fifty feet deep. The greedy lobsters go into the pot to get the bait, and to their sorrow find they can not get out again.

“ The shell is black when taken from the water, but turns red on being boiled. This explains a comparison made by Butler, an En. glish poet, in a very witty poem he wrote, called “ Hudibras." It was

[blocks in formation]

quoted in the book your uncle was reading last evening ; perhaps you noticed it. It is this :

• Now had Phoebus in the lap
Of Thetis taken out his nap,
And like a lobster boiled, the moon
From black to red began to turn.'

“ Yes, Aunt Ellen, I did notice it, and wanted to ask you then what it meant, but didn't like to interrupt the reading. How very curious is what you have told me about the lobster ! I never saw one before, and I think I shall not be so silly as to be afraid of one again, for I shall know if it is red that it must have been boiled, and therefore can not hurt me. May I go now, aunt, and look at the curious house in which the lobster lives, before Bridget begins to prepare it for dinner ?"

“Yes, dear, and let what you have heard to-day teach you to look reverently upon every thing that God has made. The meanest thing in creation exhibits such perfection of workmanship and such wonderful adaptation to the end for which it was designed, that if you will but notice its structure and habits, you can not fail to admire the wisdom and skill of the Great Designer.”

[blocks in formation]

128

OUTTINGS OF WOOD.

Microscopic Views.-Y. 4.

CUTTINGS OF WOOD.

BY UNCLE GEORGE.

H4
A, ha, ha! Willie, are you going to take a microscopic view of

that bundle of sticks? Why, there are enough to heat the oven, if they were only dry !"

“Well, I should think so ; why, boy, we don't want any fire this hot weather, and I think none of us are naughty enough to need such a display of rods, or good enough to be martyred with such a burden of fagots."

“ Never mind, Willie, your fagots will serve to cherish the flame,' not of the oven, indeed, but of knowledge and pleasure, at which our merry girls here will be warmed up to another tune. Let me take first a little twig of this black birch, cut off the end squarely, and then with this very keen knife pare an exceedingly thin shaving across from bark to heart, and see if a bundle of wood contains no beauty but in flame, no utility but as fuel. Fanny, let those laugh who win ! how does that seem ?”

Oh, glorious ! how very, very rich! Lace-work done in pol. ished silver, with such figures and finish as no patient nun ever wrought. I confess, Willie, that you have won, and this would pay for lugging a cart-load of timber.”

Jenny, how is this wooden lace-collar formed ?" “ In the center are large round openings for a little way, and then long, solid-looking wavy bars run out toward the edge, like the ribs of a spread fan; between these, in the wedge-shaped spaces, are very small pores or holes, with larger ones at regular intervals along the line of three circles that surround the center, one outside of the other; and the whole field is dotted with minute dark specks that seem to cast a sort of rich brown tint over the silvery clearness of the wood."

Very good; while Johnny admires it, I will tell you about it. The three circles are the three rings which mark the age of the twig. It was three years in growing, and the large holes on the inner border of the annual rings are the sap-tubes, or pipes, which were formed in the earlier part of the year, when heat and rain hurried forward the growth of the tree. Toward the end of the season the growth was slower, the pores were less, and the wood more solid, so preparing to resist the winter's cold, which would destroy

[blocks in formation]

a vegetation so rank as that of early summer. Into the ends of these pipes you see, are the veins and arteries of the tree, carrying its white blood, or sap, to the minutest leaf, and bringing back the air which the leaves draw in at every pore.

The small ring of large pores in the center is the pith, of which every kind of wood shows something, and some kinds show much. These are not tubes, but cloven cells. To see them to the:best advantage, let me place in the glass a cross-cutting of elder, which is more than half pith.”

“ This is the most beautiful thing I ever saw: crystal rings, large and clear, with their edges overlapping one another, lie all over the field. How rich they are ! It seems as if every thing was handsomer than the others."

“ Not a very clear sentence, Fanny, as every thing must include the others' of which you speak, so there would be no others. Suppose you say, 'Every new thing seems handsomer than the former.""

“ Yes, I meant so, but I was in a hurry—" “ All carried away by my back-load of fagots, eh, Cousin Fanny ?" “ Here we have a cutting across the end of a white pine twig."

" I guess that will have poręs large enough for me to crawl through, it is so light."

“Not so certainly, my little Johnny; you can hardly be crowded through a pine knot yet, even by the assistance of a microscope.”

Well, I am mistaken, for there are only once in a while any holes through it, only wee, little, tiny ones.”

“ That is concentrating the smallness too strongly, wee boy ; as wee, tiny, and little are intended to mean the same thing. The very close appearance of the wood is the secret of its lightness, for it is full of minute pores, so crowded together as to leave but very narrow walls of woody matter between them.”

[graphic][merged small]

“And what are those two bands where the wood looks as if woven with warp and filling."

« AnteriorContinuar »