Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/590

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At an early hour the next morning the ryot again repairs to the field and collects the thickened juice from the capsules. The juice is next emptied into an earthenware pot, and the ryot is expected to expose it every day to the air, but not to the sun; to turn over the mass daily, so as to insure its being thoroughly dried; to keep it free from impurities or adulterations; and to bring it up to the highest standard of consistence and strength. When he has persevered with this process for three weeks or a month he delivers the raw opium at the factory. A dark, coffee-colored fluid, called pussana, exudes from the juice when it is fresh, which contains many of the active principles of the drug, and is dealt with separately. Besides the collected petals which form the envelope of the drug, and the pussana, the ryot has other sources of profit in the poppy. The stems and leaves of the plant are left till they become thoroughly dried up under the hot winds of April and May. They are then removed, broken up into a coarse powder, and used for the packing of the cakes. The oil is used for cooking and lighting. The seeds are like caraway and are sold as comfits; and after the extraction of the oil a dry cake remains, which is given to cattle or sold for medicinal purposes.


Time-reckoning on the Congo.—According to an account of the geography and meteorology of the natives of the cataract region of the Congo, given in the Mouvement géographique, the day is the solar day, in the length of which no variation (the range being only about forty minutes) is recognized. It is divided into four parts of three hours each, which are indicated by stretching the arm or pointing to the east for sunrise; 45° toward the east for nine o'clock; toward the zenith for noon; 45° toward the west for three o'clock, and horizontally toward the west for sunset. Each hour has its name, that for sunrise meaning "early," and that for sunset, "the sun is dead." If a native is asked how long it will take to go to a certain village, he will answer by pointing to where the sun stands at starting, and toward where it will be when the point is reached. Thus he indicates the number of hours by the astronomical angle corresponding with them. Four days form a week, and each day has its name. Public markets are distinguished by the name of the day on which they are held, and of the chief, village, or group of villages that control them. Seven four-day weeks form a month, which corresponds with the lunar month. Long durations of time are expressed in moons; the black does not take account of years. Although he distinguishes the seasons and recognizes their periodicity, he has no fixed point by which to determine the revolution of the sun. The five seasons of the Congo are that of abundant and continuous rains (from the middle of February to the middle of May); that of the end of the great rains and the beginning of the dry season, when the grass grows high (middle of May to middle of July); the dry season, continuing till the middle of September—also the season of great hunts; the beginning of the lesser rainy season, when the sapotas begin to grow (middle of September till the end of November); and the season of decreasing rains, or lesser dry season, when the sapotas are eatable (December, January, and early February). The phases of the moon are understood. The new moon is called the child moon, and the moon at its last quarter the dead moon. The blacks know that the new moon is the same that appeared in the preceding month, but they have no explanation for the phenomenon. They have no notion concerning the stars, further than to recognize the brightness of Venus and give it a name, and to name the constellation of the Three Kings. Atmospheric phenomena—rains, droughts, thunder, rainbows, halos, etc.—are attributed to the action of the spirits invoked by the fetich-priests.


Evolution on the Railroad.—It is most interesting, says Mr. W. Armstrong Willis in the Gentleman's Magazine, to trace how tenaciously the first railway managers in England clung to the traditions of coaching. The builders of the first railway carriages made no allowance for the changed mode of progression and motion which was introduced with the steam-engine. They retained the short, narrow, stuffy body of the stage-coach, set it upon four wheels of another make, and then attached it to the engine as to a new, enlarged kind of horse. With the increased