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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/732

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

no volcanoes in the moon. Volcanic action can only take place where water is present. The moon having no water, the idea of such action there is precluded. M. Faye supposes that the so-called "craters" of the moon were formed, not by erruptive action, but by the action of the fused mass of the interior upon the crust, after it had begun to solidify. The liquid mass was subject to tides, which, surging against the crust under the influence of the earth's attraction, washed holes in it, when the fluid rose above it, and formed ridges around the holes, in the same way as the tidal waters of the sea act upon shore-ice. The ridges thus left formed the rings or circles of the "craters." The continuing solidification of the fused matter finally caused a formation of a bottom to the crater. Sometimes the bottom, not yet firm, would yield to the pressure of the molten mass beneath it, which, rising through it again, left the central hills which are remarked in some of the circles. M. Faye does not deny that water may have once existed in the moon, and have been finally absorbed in the solid matter, but he asserts that it could never have existed in the shape of seas, or in such quantities as to occasion volcanic action. If it had so existed, evidence of its action on the land would still be visible; but no feature of the moon's surface exhibits an appearance attributable to any known action of water. The appearance of the craters is, moreover, not like that given by terrestrial volcanic action, but is that which would be given by the agency M. Faye supposes.

 

Arrow-Poison of the South-Sea Islands.—Herr Weisser, of the German war-ship Ariadne, has obtained from a Christianized native of the South-Sea Islands a description of the preparation of the poisoned arrows and spears of his people. It is a matter of intricate processes, and is the peculiar business of a class who possess the secret. The spear and arrow heads arc made from the arm and leg bones of persons who, having died of acute diseases, have been buried for five or six months. The spearheads are made of the larger bones of the leg, to which the shaft, inserted in the hollow, is bound with a string of bark. The other bones are sawed with an instrument made from the spines of an echinus into pieces an inch or two long, and ground down to a fine point for arrow-heads. The poison is prepared from several plants, three of which are almost invariably used. The most poisonous of them is the toto, a large tree, bearing handsome white flowers and a red, almond-like nut, the juice of which, sprinkled into the eyes, produces blindness, taken internally, death, and which seems to be allied to the spurges. Another plant, called pulu, is of the family of the dogbanes; and the third plant, called nasola and fanuamamala, is another spurge, represented in Samoa by three species. The leaves of these trees, stripped of their stems and points and dried, are pulverized; a powder of the scrapings of old weapons is added; the mass is wrapped up with a sea-worm (holothuria) in a leaf of colocassia. The foul liquid which results from the dissolution is thickened with more of the powder into a thin paste; earth gathered from the neighborhood of a wasps'-nest, and pulverized with a thigh-bone, is put in; the mixture, having been dried in the sun, is treated with the oil of an old cocoanut; a dark, cloudy oil is formed after a month of manipulation, and this is put away for a year till it becomes of the consistency of fat, when the poison is considered ready for use. The spear and arrow heads are smoked in a furnace prepared for the purpose with a particular wood. The manipulator takes a small portion of the poison, rubs it carefully upon the arrow-head, and again smokes the latter. The prepared heads are wrapped in the dried flower-stalk of a tacca-plant, and are then put in a quiver made of the cylindrical stems of the banana, and hung over the fire to dry, for dampness spoils the preparation. The poison is fatal if taken internally, but no man ever thinks of revenging himself on his enemy by administering it to him. Women, however, are said sometimes to rid themselves of an unloved husband in this way. The effect of wounds by the poisoned spears and arrows is ordinarily great local pain, followed by general disturbance of the system, ending in a few days in convulsions, lockjaw, and death. Sometimes, if the wound is cut out immediately, the patient recovers; at others, the disease assumes a more gradual form, but ends