Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/824

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"Is there any key of C flat?" Not getting an answer, he continued: "I have asked you a good many times if there is a key of C flat. Tell me." The same morning, at the breakfast table, he suddenly introduced a very inappropriate subject with the question: "Do cannibals ever eat their friends? Tell me." "What made you think of that?" "I have heard people say that cannibals eat other people, and so I asked."

Most frequently his questions refer to some idea obtained from what he has read some time previously. For example: "What does prudent mean?" "Where did you see that word?" "In the story about the Prudent Farmer in Harper's Third Reader." "What does verb active mean?" "Where did you see that?" "In the story about Squeer's school, written by Charles Dickens, you know." "Is a merry heart better than wealth?" "Where did you read that?" "In Harper's Third Reader." "What does effort mean?" "Trying to do something. Where did you see that word?" "In the fable of the stork and the fox." "What is wisdom?" "Knowing many things. When a man has many wise thoughts he has wisdom." "Yes," he said, "wiseness." "Where did you see wisdom?" "I saw it in the picture of a door. Over the door was a card, and on the card it said, 'Wisdom is strength.' I saw a picture of somebody whispering in an owl's ear, and it said, 'A word to the wise.' Is the owl the wisest bird?" "What is honest milk?" This last question was suggested by his reading a milkman's circular.

On the other hand, many of his questions can not be connected with his reading, but appear to result from reasoning or a recognized analogy. "How do plants make themselves bigger when they grow?" he asked when we were talking about planting his garden. I heard him saying to himself, "Wildless, wildless." I asked him what he was talking about, and he replied: "About plants that are not wild. What are they called?" "Garden or cultivated plants," I answered. "What made you say wildless?" "Why," said he, "I knew that harmless meant something that wouldn't do any harm, and so wildless means plants that are not wild." He mentioned the fall, and I asked him what he meant by fall. He replied: "The winter at first, the first of it. Do they call it fall because everything is falling?" There was some talk about dressing him or putting on his dress, and, reasoning from analogy, he asked, "When God puts the skin on people, is that skinning them?" I once read of the people in the moon being like grasshoppers, and told him about it. When I had finished the story, he. said: "When we look up in the sky we see the moon rolling on above us, and when the people in the moon look up in the sky they see the earth rolling along above them. What is the strange puzzle about that?" I told him that his specimen of