Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/358

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344
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lifted up his head a little, and quickly said, 'Adsum!' and fell back. It was the word we used at school when names were called, and lo, he, whose heart was as that of a little child, had answered to his name, and stood in the presence of The Master."

Sadder than death is it, however, when the brain perishes before the body. "How often, alas, we see," says Wendell Holmes, "the mighty satirist tamed into oblivious imbecility; the great scholar wandering without sense of time or place, among his alcoves, taking his books one by one from the shelves and fondly patting them: a child once more among his toys, but a child whose to-morrows come hungry, and not full-handed—come as birds of prey in the place of the sweet singers of morning. We must all become as little children if we live long enough; but how blank an existence the wrinkled infant must carry into the kingdom of heaven, if the Power that gave him memory does not repeat the miracle by restoring it!"—Cornhill Magazine.

 
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AN EPISODE ON RATS.

THE Norway rat, of which we wish to say a few words, is the Lemming, a species of the mouse-tribe, somewhat smaller than the Guinea-pig, to which in form it bears a considerable resemblance, only the head and body are flatter. Its length is about six inches, of which the short stump of a tail forms half an inch. It is black in color, mottled with tawny spots, which vary in their disposition in different individuals, and the belly is white, with a slight tinge of yellow. The fore-legs are short and strong, and the hind-legs are nearly one-half longer than the former, enabling it to run with considerable speed. The feet are armed with strong hooked claws, five in number, enabling it to burrow in the earth, and among the frozen snows of its native region. Its cheeks are blanched, and it sports a pair of long light whiskers, and its eyes, though small, are beautifully black and piercing. The lip is divided, and the ears are small and sharply pointed. As its home borders on the region of eternal snow, in the valleys of the Kolen Mountains, which separate Sweden from Nordland, its hair is both thick and soft, and becomes almost white during the long and cheerless winter of these inhospitable regions. The skin is much thinner than in any of its congeners. When enraged it gives utterance to a sharp yelp, similar to that of a month-old terrier-whelp.

It is a lively little fellow, when met with in its native haunts, during the short summer—now sitting on its haunches nibbling at a piece of lichen, or the catkins of the birch, which it conveys to its mouth with its fore-paws, after the manner of the squirrel, or engaging in a romp with its fellows, popping in and out of its burrow in the earth