Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/88

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78
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

prised me by depositing on the dressing table a number of living young ones about as thick as a large cigarette and seven inches long. In these little snakelings the instinct of self-defense was born; for, before they were a minute old, they stood up erect, ready to strike like their parents. They were provided with poison, too, but could not expand their hoods till they were a week older.

Dear, pretty, little venomous babies! — infant criminals of the reptile kind — they had no more knowledge of nor affection for their mamma than if she were an old tree root or something else inanimate lying in their way and troublesome to be climbed over. Nor would the mother take the slightest notice of her interesting family. Indeed, some of them she never saw at all. Most probably she didn't know that they were any relations of hers, or she would have shown them some little attention.


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REDONDA AND ITS PHOSPHATES.

By FRED W. MORSE.

REDONDA is a small island lying between Nevis and Montserrat, in that cordon, commonly called the Windward Islands, which keeps the Caribbean Sea apart from the Atlantic, Ocean. It was discovered by Columbus, who named it after an old Spanish cathedral instead of a saint, as he did so many of the smaller West Indies. Some authors, however, claim that Redonda means round, and that it was applied because of the domelike appearance of the island.

In the summer of 1890 the writer had the good fortune to spend a week in the company of Prof. Charles H. Hitchcock on the rock — for rock it is and little else. But the rock contains phosphates, which fact explains our visit to such an out-of-the-way place. I call the island out of the way, because, after being invited by Prof. Hitchcock to accompany him there, we could find no account of it, excepting a casual mention in books on the West Indies. From these brief descriptions the opinion was formed that it was an uninhabited and almost inaccessible rock, furnishing a home only for sea birds. We knew that phosphates were mined there, because we had received specimens from cargoes shipped to this country, but those did not enlighten us with regard to the mode of life upon the rock, and it was with some misgivings that we made our arrangements for a midsummer trip to the torrid zone, with the prospect of roughing it under a tropical sun.

The island was reached by taking the steamship Bermuda, which makes the rounds of the Windward Islands, going to Mont-