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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/563

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PREHISTORIC SCIENCE EN FÉTE.

quired many of these wayward beasts to drag the carriages through the four or five inches of dust underfoot. After three hours of such wading, a little sheltered from the blazing sun by the clouds of dust the mules raised, Otta was reached. Otta, or rather a sandy wild with a thin growth of foot-high dwarf-oaks, some miles farther on, is the spot our Tertiary phantom is supposed to have selected for his dwelling. There was a lake there in those days. No one would be predisposed to acknowledge as an ancestor either man or ape capable of displaying such bad taste in his choice of a home; for in Portugal beautiful and wooded retreats abound, so there was no excuse for settling in a bare desert—except perhaps the fishing. However, all dutifully hunted for this creature's remains; but only one flake, near the surface, was found by an Italian, Signor Belucci from Rome, and that caused hardly less excitement than the discovery of a new gold-mine.

But the dryness of the day and subject was exhausting, even to those most affected by the fièvre tertiaire, and all readily abandoned the dust of ages and flocked into a tent, a lodge in that vast wilderness, which seemed to have come there by enchantment. Due justice was done to the sumptuous breakfast prepared, for science does not impair the appetite, and then followed endless toasts. The health of the foreign members having been proposed, a representative of each nation, French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, and Slav, returned thanks in widely varying accents for their hospitable reception in Portugal. M. de Quatrefages was by far the best orator, and the President, Senhor João d'Andrade Corvo, spoke well. After much time, wine, and breath had been expended, a practical Englishman, who meant work, and was not broken in to foreign dilatoriness, proposed as a final toast Au silence et au travail. The hint was taken, and hammers and sunshades again put in requisition, but again with no decisive result. Two of the ladies of the party, escorted by two gallant Frenchmen, made the difficult ascent of a neighboring steep hill, to look down disdainfully on the worthy archæologists grubbing below like ants, and following as useless a quest as those minute busybodies seem to indulge in as a rule. When it is mentioned that the thermometer stood at 96°, it would be superfluous to indicate the nationality of the fair climbers.

But for an opportune vineyard passed on the return journey, all Europe might have been bereaved of her science, as the great expedition nearly died of thirst. Anthropology would have been nipped in the bud, and archaeology would have returned to the dust, had not a supply of grapes averted the awful calamity.

Next morning, Wednesday, primeval cannibalism was the subject of debate, but "long pig" was not discussed for dinner, as might have been expected, thanks to good Portuguese cookery.

The day following the gay assembly were abroad again, going to Santarem, where they were received with flags and rockets, welcomed