Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/38

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and novel; but the broiling, stifling heat and the plague of flies would soon render a residence in this land intolerable."

"On the land, I grant you," interrupted the Instructor, "but we do not live on the land, but in the water."

"You astonish me more and more," I exclaimed; "how is it possible for human beings to live in the water? Their shape and muscular development are but ill-adapted for swimming, and though some of us have overcome the disadvantages of nature and can swim as well as dogs, still, the inconveniences of always remaining in the water and the fearful heat the head must be exposed to from the burning rays of the sun in this hottest region of the world, would suffice to prevent a long sojourn in such a situation."

"Doubtless," he replied, "if we kept our heads above the water, we should suffer, as you have rightly stated, from the heat of the sun, but we are exempt from this inconvenience, for we live under the water."

"That crowns all the wonderful things I have seen and heard since coming here," I exclaimed. "But how can human beings live beneath the water like fishes? They cannot transform their lungs into gills; their eyes are so constructed that contact with water destroys all useful vision. Then their bodies are of such specific gravity, that, unless they use considerable exertion, they must rise perpetually to the surface. In short," I added, rather petulantly, "I cannot regard what you have told me otherwise than as an attempt to hoax me, and, excuse me, but I think you do no credit to the office you hold under your Government, if you attempt to palm off such sorry jokes on those confided to your care."