Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/104

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94
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

indolent and thriftless, the mixed races much more so than the native Indians. Idleness is the curse of Central America, and the people are content to live in squalid poverty rather than work. Dio Filiberto was a thrifty man, and told the traveler that he was building a new residence, and showed him outside his hut four old posts, used for tying cows to, which had evidently been in the ground many years. "There," said he, "are the corner-posts, and I shall roof it with tiles." Long, no doubt, will he lounge at evening, when his wife and children are milking the cows, and feel proud, as he views the four old posts, that he is building a new house.

The habitations of the Indians, mere shelters as they are, are generally quite cleanly; and this class of the population is invariably fond of flowers. On all important occasions, beautiful and fragrant flowers are used for decoration, a trait of the old Indians which survives with their unfortunate descendants.

Mr. Belt's descriptions of natural scenery are vivid and impressive. The night-world he describes as being very different from that of the day. Things that blink and hide from the light are all awake and astir when the sun goes down. Great spiders and scorpions prowl about, or take up advantageous positions where they expect their prey to pass. Cockroaches, of all sizes, from that of one's finger to that of one's finger-nail, stand with long, quivering antennæ, watching for their numerous foes, or scurry away from danger, as fast as their legs can carry them; but, if they come within reach of the great spider, they are pounced upon in an instant, and, with one convulsive kick, give up the struggle. Centipedes, wood-lice, and all kinds of creeping things, come out of cracks and crevices; the pools are alive with water-beetles, which have been hiding in the ooze all day. Owls and night-jars make strange, unearthly cries. The timid deer comes out of its close covert to feed on the grassy clearings. Jaguars, ocelots, and opossums, slink about in the gloom. All the day-world is at rest and asleep. The night speeds on; the dawn is saluted by the song of birds, and the creatures of night hurry to their dens and hiding-places. As a traveler, naturalist, and observer, Mr. Belt has done excellent service, and the reading world is his debtor.

 
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A GIGANTIC RELIC.
By H. BUTTERWORTH.

THE rarest collections of scientific relics are often the most unvisited, and it is a somewhat singular fact, that the choicest and most instructive curiosities in many of our larger cities are not to be found in the popular museums. Thousands of people living in the city of Boston, who are familiar with the stuffed animals and astonishing