Page:The fairy tales of science.djvu/83

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59
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.

the ocean had its charms, but it was not to be compared with the life I now led among the sportive atoms of the air. My two friends remained true to me. Indeed, had it not been for their constant watchfulness I should have fallen to the earth, for I was not buoyant enough to float unsupported.

“Sometimes we soared to a great height, where the aërial atoms were very far apart, but we usually kept near the surface of the earth. How changed was the aspect of nature! When I first beheld the outer world all was barren and lifeless, now every scrap of dry land was covered with a luxuriant vegetation.[1] The plants were mostly of great magnitude, though, strange to say, some of them were closely allied to the humble ferns and tiny mosses of the age of man. I have seen many wondrous things in my time, but nothing to surpass those ancient forests, composed of ferns as large as oaks, and mosses seventy feet high!

“I was destined to become a part of one of these gigantic mosses. As I was passing through a forest with myriads of aërial atoms, I happened to strike against a leaf, which instantly absorbed me, but allowed my two companions, who had never been separated from me before, to pass on with the rest. For some time I circulated through the vessels of the living plant as a constituent of the sap, but at length I settled down among the atoms of carbon,

  1. The Carboniferous Period.