Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/736

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736
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

all their lives, and which they have found it to be impossible to get rid of." This defect may account for some of the accidents that occur on railways and shipping.

 

Mexican Leather.—A report of the Belgian minister in Mexico shows that the export of leathers from that country is increasing, and on account of the favorable Conditions for cattle-raising that exist there is likely to continue to advance. The trade is just now suffering from the careless and defective manner in which the hides are treated before shipment. The trade in alligator-skins is capable of great development, and promises all the elements of a lucrative industry, because alligators or caymans are abundant in all the lagoons and cost nothing. Nearly all the parts of this animal are used. The teeth are made up, in conjunction with gold, into ornaments and articles of jewelry, which find a ready sale; medical properties are ascribed to the oil, and it is highly appreciated for the manufacture of soap; but the most important part is the skin, which is very strong and handsomely marked, and is used for shoes, bags, and fancy articles. The skin of the iguana also has a value, but is less consistent than that of the cayman.

 

Mesopotamian Peoples.—The population of southern Mesopotamia is divided by Dr. B. Moritz into three classes. The Bedouins of the desert live in dwellings made of black goat's hair, possess "wonderfully large" herds of sheep and camels, and pursue cattle-lifting as a national sport. The second class—the dwellers along the rivers and canals—form the settled agricultural element, and, although enjoying the smallest area of country, are the most numerous class of the population. They live in reed huts, which are a cross between the tent of the nomads and the permanent house. At the time of the great inundations they frequently leave their abodes and seek other places of residence, where the conditions as regards the waters are more favorable. Many also proceed in the summer into the desert, and only return in the winter to at tend to their fields. Rice, barley, and wheat are cultivated. Rotten fish forms also a chief article of food. The third class of the population are the inhabitants of the marshes, whose sole employment is the pasturing of their buffaloes. They are human amphibia, who, like their cattle, subsist on the lower parts of the reeds and rushes, and, as a rule, wear only a felt cap, stiff with dirt, on their heads; they are otherwise generally unclothed. They live in little rush huts which are frequently situated in an impenetrable morass. Their civilization is an indescribably low one.

 

Cultivation of Lemons in Sicily.—The ever-bearing lemon of Sicily, according to the consular reports, produces blossoms and lemons every month in the year. Lemons are known as true and bastard. The "true" lemon is produced by the April and May blossoms, the "bastard" by the irregular blooms of February, March, June, and July, which depend upon the rainfall or regular irrigation and the intensity of the heat. The true lemon requires nine months—from May to January—to reach maturity. A first harvest of fruit takes place in November, when the lemons are green-colored and not fully ripe. These are the most highly prized and can be kept in the warehouses till March, and sometimes May, when they are shipped. A second lot is harvested in December and January, but these must be shipped within three weeks. The fruit of the third harvest, which occurs in March and April, is shipped at once, and enjoys the benefit of the high spring prices. The bastard lemons may be known by the peculiarities in their size and appearance. They are hard, rich in acid, and seedless; will remain on the tree a year, and sell well in summer; and some will remain on the trees for eighteen months. Four times more lemons than oranges are raised in Sicily, and the cultivation is thirty per cent more profitable.

 

Parasites of Hospitals.—The Abuse of a Great Charity is the title of a paper by Dr. George M. Gould on the greed with which the advantages of gratuitous hospital practice are sought by outdoor patients who are able to pay for treatment but are willing to "get something for nothing." Among the baneful results of the abuse are counted the encouragement of pauperism, dependence, and deceit in a large class already too