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Till, in the summer-land of dreams,
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
Explain the expressions: " the ragged brush ” (1); “burst into rosy bloom" (1); “ tropic heat" (2); “the great throat of the chimney laughed " (2); “ticking its weary circuit through " (4); “the refuse gray”(4); “when hearts are light and life is new (5).
1. glănd; n. cell.
3. eon sẽrv á to ries; n. 1. Ooz' eş; v. flows gently.
greenhouses. 1. gla' tự ngus; a. sticky. 4. eon' věx; a. swelling into a 1. dis’ sĩ pã tă0; 2. Scattered. rounded form. 1. bogs; n. marshes; wet, spongy 5. wạn' ton něs$; n. recklessground.
ness; playfulness. 3. så văn' nås; n. extensive 6. €är nỉv'o roůs; d. feeding open plains or meadows.
How Certain Plants Capture Insects.
1. All species of Sundew have their leaves, and some their stalks also, beset with bristles tipped with a gland from which oozes a drop of clear but very glutinous liquid, making the plant appear as if studded with dewdrops. These remain, glistening in the sun, long after dewdrops would have been dissipated. Small flies, gnats, and suchlike insects, seemingly enticed by the glittering drops, stick fast upon them and perish by starvation, one would suppose without any benefit whatever to the plant. But in the broad-leaved wild species of our bogs, such as the common Round-leaved Sundew, the upper face and edges of the blade of the leaf bear stronger bristles tipped with a
larger glutinous drop, and the whole forms what we must allow to be a veritable fly-trap.
2. For when a small fly alights on the upper face and is held by some of the glutinous drops long enough for the leaf to act, the surrounding bristles slowly bend inward, so as to bring their glutinous tips also against the body of the insect. The different species of Sundew offer all gradations, between those with merely scattered and motionless dewy-tipped bristles, to which flies may chance to stick, and this more complex arrangement which we cannot avoid regarding as intended for fly-catching. Moreover, in both of our commoner species the blade of the leaf itself incurves, so as to fold round its victim.
3. And a most practiced observer, whose observations are not yet published, declares that the leaves of the common Round-leaved Sundew act differently when different objects are placed upon them. For instance, if a particle of raw meat be substituted for the living fly, the bristles will close upon it in the same manner; but to a particle of chalk or wood they remain nearly indifferent. doubt should still remain whether the fly-catching in Sundews is accidental or intentional—in other words, whether the leaf is so constructed and arranged in order that it may capture flies--the doubt may perhaps disappear upon the contemplation of another, and even more extraordinary, plant of the same family of the Sundew—namely, Venus's Fly-trap. This plant abounds in the low savannas around Wilmington, North Carolina, and is native nowhere else. It is not very difficult to cultivate—at least, for a time—and it is kept in many choice conservatories as a vegetable wonder.
4. The trap is the end of the leaf. It is somewhat like the leaf of Sundew, only larger, about an inch in diameter,
with bristles still stouter, but only round the margin, like a fringe, and no clammy liquid or gland at their tips. The leaf folds on itself as if hinged at the midrib. Three more delicate bristles are seen on the face upon close inspection. When these are touched by the finger or the point of a pencil, the open trap shuts with a quick motion, and after a considerable interval it reopens. When a fly or other insect alights on the surface and brushes against these sensitive bristles, the trap closes promptly, generally imprisoning the intruder. It closes at first with the sides convex and the bristles crossing each other, like the fingers of interlocked hands or the teeth of a steel trap, but soon the sides of the trap flatten down and press firmly upon the victim, and it now requires a very considerable force to open the trap. If nothing is caught, the trap presently reopens of itself and is ready for another attempt.
5. When a fly or any similar insect is captured, it is retained until it perishes—is killed, indeed, and consumed ; after which it opens for another capture. But after the first or second it acts sluggishly and feebly, it ages and hardens, at length loses its sensibility, and slowly decays. It cannot be supposed that plants, like boys, catch flies for pastime or in objectless wantonness; living beings though they are, yet they are not of a sufficiently high order for that. It is equally incredible that such an exquisite apparatus as this should be purposeless. And in the present case the evidence of the purpose and of the meaning of the strange action is well-nigh complete.
6. The face of this living trap is thickly sprinkled with glands large enough to be clearly discerned with a handlens; these glands, soon after an insect is closed upon, give out a saliva-like liquid which moistens the insect, and in a short time (within a week) dissolves all its soft parts, and
the liquid, with the animal matter it has dissolved, is reabsorbed into the leaf. We are forced to conclude, therefore, that this plant is really carnivorous.
7. That, while all plants are food for animals, some few should, in turn and to some extent, feed upon them, will appear more credible when it is considered that whole tribes of plants of the lowest grade (Mold-Fungi and the like) habitually feed upon living plants and living animals, or upon their juices when dead.
ASA GRAY. What flows from the gland on the Sundew (1) ? What happens to the insects that are attracted by the glittering drops (1) ? Describe the Round-leaved Sundew (1). What happens when a smali fly alights on the upper face of that plant (2) ? Describe how the leaves act when different articles are placed on them (3). Of what part of the country is Venus's Fly-trap a native (3) ? Describe the leaf of the plant (4). What happens when its bristles are touched by the finger (4) ? What if an insect touches the bristles (4)? What if nothing is caught (4) ? How does the plant act when it captures an insect (5)? What do the glands of this trap give out when an insect is caught (6)? To what conclusions are we forced (6) ? Why is it credible that some plants feed upon animals (7) ?
1. e văe' u ā' tion; n. the act | 6. shăm' bles; n. places for of emptying.
slaughtering animals. 4. be drăg'gled; v. soiled. 7. quick; n. living. 5. În çěs' sant; d. continuing 7. de poş' Yt ed; v. thrown without interruption.
down. 6. Ym põşęd; v. put.
7. eon sīgned ; v. delivered.
The Massacre of Cawnpore.
In 1857 the Sepoys or native troops in India broke out in mutiny, on the pretext that the English, by issuing to them cartridges mixed with pig's fat, meant to insult and despise their religion. Brutal
of Europeans took place. At Cawnpore the English General, Sir Hugh Wheeler, asked a chief named Nana Sahib, who lived near Cawnpore and professed to be friendly to the
English, to come and help him. Nana came with his guns and soldiers, but only to join the insurgents and turn his guns against the English. The English, men, women, and children, took refuge in an old hospital with mud walls, and here continued to repel the constant attacks of the mutineers, until Nana Sabib offered to all who would lay down their arms a safe passage to Allahabad. The terms were accepted; but the English found themselves the victims of a fiendish act of treachery.
1. The time for the evacuation of the garrison came. The boats were in readiness on the Ganges. The long procession of men, women, and children passed slowly down. Some of the chief among Nana's counselors took their stand in a little temple on the margin of the river, to superintend the embarkation and the work that was to follow it. Nana's lieutenant, Tantia Topee, had given orders, it seems, that when a trumpet sounded, some work, for which he had arranged, should begin.
2. The wounded and the women were got into the boats, which were covered with roofs of straw. The officers and men were scrambling in after them. Suddenly the blast of a trumpet was heard. The moment the bugle sounded, the straw of the boat-roofs blazed up, and the native rowers began to make precipitately for the shore. They had set fire to the thatch, and were now escaping from the flames. At the same moment there came from both shores of the river thick showers of grapeshot and musketry. The banks of the Ganges seemed, in an instant, alive with shot, a very rain of bullets poured in upon the devoted inmates of the boats. To add to the horror of the moment, nearly all the boats stuck fast in the mud banks, and the occupants became fixed targets for the fire of their enemies. Only three of the boats floated. Two of these drifted to the Oude shore, and those on board them were killed at once.