Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/292

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

getting angry, shoots an arrow which misses the sun, and causes the prairie to take fire. The man in the moon is an Indian, who chopped wood every day, including Sunday, whereupon the moon came down and seized him, and he has been up there ever since. In the same manner the stars are supposed to be Indians, who have "got up into the sky" from time to time; thunder is caused by a great bird, and the lightning by the arrows which it shoots. Their version of the flood is a very quaint piece of folk lore, and apparently entirely original with them. In a report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, on the Northwestern Tribes of Canada, Mr. A. F. Chamberlain describes this legend very interestingly, and in his pamphlet, which covers almost every trait and characteristic of the Kootenays, as well as statistics of the development of their language and customs, he relates the strange history of their sociology, folk lore, physical characteristics, etc. The monograph is published at the offices of the association at Burlington House, London.

 

Animals for Pets.—What is required for an every-day pet, says the London Spectator, is that it shall be beautiful and intelligent; that it shall neither be too large nor too delicate; and, if a bird, that it shall sing or talk—preferably both. The limits set by size and constitution are the main consideration in the choice of pets. Yet even so, the possible range is very great, and might well extend far beyond the species which form the main body of those usually seen at home. Tame rabbits are plenty, but tame hares are rare. A charming little foreign pet for the house is the suricate, "an active and vivacious little fellow, some ten inches long, with greenish-brown fur, large bright eyes, a short pointed nose, and dainty paws, which, like the squirrel's or the raccoon's, are used as hands, to hold, to handle, and to ask for more. . . . The creature is made for a pet, and is so affectionate to its master that it can undergo any degree of 'spoiling' without injury to its temper." A larger and more beautiful creature is the brown opossum from Tasmania—the "sooty phalangist"—with fur of the richest dark brown covering its prehensile tail like a fur boa. "Its head is small, with a pink nose and very large brown eyes; and it has a 'compound' hand, with claws on its fingers, and an almost human and clawless thumb, with the aid of which it can hold a wineglass, or eat jam out of a teaspoon. That owned by the writer was, without exception, the most fearless and affectionate pet he has ever known. In the evening, when it was most lively, it would climb on to the shoulder of any of its visitors, and take any food given it. It had a mania for cleanliness, always 'washing' its hands after taking food, or even after running across the room, and was always anxious to do the same office by the hands of any one who fed it. It made friends with the dogs, and would 'wash' their faces for them, catching hold of an old setter's nose with its sharp little claws, to hold it steady while it licked its face. The staircase and banisters furnished a gymnasium for exercise in winter, and in summer it could be trusted among the trees in the garden." The American gray squirrel, the coati, the mongoose, the marmot, and the prairie dog are commended as pleasant pets in their various ways; but only one monkey—the capuchin—is thoroughly recommended as an indoor pet. No other monkey approaches it in good temper and pretty, winning ways. They all have good, round heads, with black fur on the top and light brown on the cheeks. Their faces are most expressive and seldom still, for they take deep and abiding interest in everything in or about their cages. One is mentioned which had learned to put out burning paper by beating it with its hands or knocking it against the floor. Another, if it got a match, would collect a heap of straw, strike the match, light its bonfire, and dance around it. "The capuchin is so small, so pretty, and so clever that it seems to embody all the good and none of the bad points of monkey nature."

 

Spinal Curvature in Schools.—The result was recently presented by Dr. Scudder, of Boston, of an investigation into the seating of thirty-five hundred schoolgirls, with especial reference to its effect on the spine. Lateral curvature of the spine, the author said, is probably due to several factors, among which are the weight of the body falling upon a weakened spine; weakness of the spine in bone, muscle, or ligament; and a position persistently out of the median antero-poste-