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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/774

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laying. Now watch her, in her all-important work; statelily she travels over the combs surrounded by a body-guard of her subjects, who make way for her as she moves, and are ready to attend to the eggs she lays. Her majesty inserts her head into a cell to investigate, passes over it, and, her abdomen having taken the place of her head, she turns half round until her antennae are below the medial line, and her work is done, to be repeated again and again two or three thousand times a day! Such is the fecundity of a young and vigorous queen bee, the mother as well as monarch of every other bee in the hive. The nurse-bees now take charge of the egg, a little white body curved and shaped like a cucumber, which is destined three days hence to give birth to a little white grub which, coiled up at the bottom of the cell, revels in a bath of chyle, a kind of jelly which forms its sustenance for a few days, until it passes to a pupa, and eventually it becomes a winged and perfect bee. The exact time for the happening of this latter event depends on whether the perfect bee is to be a queen, a worker, or a drone; the first is matured in sixteen days, the second in twenty-one days, and the latter (which are the males) in twenty-five days. Strange as it may appear, the bees have the power, and may be guided by their owner to exercise that power, to make worker eggs or young larvae into queens, and this is done by enlarging the little animal's cradle, and feeding it with more stimulating food. We may add that it is part of the art of the skilful bee-keeper not to permit idleness in his apiary, and should he discover a colony of his bees to be in the same condition as we have been contemplating in the garden of our cottage friends, he would take summary measures to remedy the evil.

The Czar Nicholas's Letters on the Crimean War. — After Inkermann. — "31st October (12th November). You must not let yourself be depressed, my dear Mentchikof, whilst you are at the head of the heroes of Sevastopol, having under your orders a body of eighty thousand choice troops, who have just proved once more what they are capable of when they are led as they ought to be, and where they ought to be. With such gallant men it would be disgraceful to think of defeat. Again tell them that I thank them — that seeing their true Russian Courage I am satisfied with them. If hitherto we have not had the success which we had a right to expect, God is still full of mercy, and perhaps the success will yet come. As to abandoning Sevastopol, it would be disgraceful to think of it, so long as there are inside its walls and outside eighty thousand soldiers full of energy; it would be to forget our duty, and to lose all feeling of honor and patriotism. That is why I cannot for a moment think of such a thing. Let us die with glory, but not capitulate nor beat a retreat! I write no more, for I know not what there is to write about. I am happy that God has preserved my sons safe and sound; that they have shown themselves equal to their position and its exigencies. I end as I began: Let no one be discouraged — you, as commander, least of all, for all eyes are turned towards you, and your example ought to animate every individual to the fulfilment of his duty to the last extremity. May God protect you! I embrace you affectionately." "2nd (14th November). In the name of God take care of the wounded; watch over them as much as possible. Encourage the troops; speak to them in my name; thank them! Let them know that their services are appreciated, and that their exploits reach me. Reward as soon as possible those who distinguish themselves." . . . "7th (19th November). Your report of the 31st of October reached me this evening, my dear Mentchikof. God be praised that nothing very bad has happened as yet! The animated spirit of the army rejoices me very much; besides, I had no right to doubt it. It would be desirable that the troops should distinguish themselves, show their valor and their zeal: they can do it if they are skilfully directed. Thanks to God, the wounded are recovering. I will not cease to beg of you to do all you can to alleviate their sufferings. It is with a lively sentiment of pleasure I read your report, so honorable to my children; as a father, I am happy not to have been deceived in them. In my last letter I had already granted you the permission to decorate them, if you thought it just to do so. It would be wrong, too, to forget all those who are meritorious. I suppose Prince Gortchakof will find no obstacle in sending to you what forces he can spare from Nicolaief. Note well that, those forces arrived, there will be no more to send. It would be vexatious to exhaust this last reserve, for it is the only one available to complete the other corps, for God alone knows what awaits us. It is very much to be regretted that your excellent cavalry had no chance of distinguishing itself." St. James's Magazine.