Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/52

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in the ground, into each of which a dead ant was laid, where they now labored on until they had filled up the ants' graves. This did not quite finish the remarkable circumstances attending this funeral of the ants. Some six or seven of the ants had attempted to run off without performing their share of the task of digging; these were caught and brought back, when they were at once attacked by the body of ants and killed. A single grave was quickly dug, and they were all dropped into it."

A remarkable acquaintance with mechanical principles is shown by spiders in building and attaching their webs. This ingenuity is perhaps most strikingly shown in making the repairs that some accident has necessitated. A web had been broken from one of its attachments during a storm and flapped violently in the wind. The spider let itself down to the ground, and crawled to a place where lay some splintered pieces of a wooden fence thrown down by the storm. It fastened a thread to one of the bits of wood, turned back with it, and hung it to the lower part of its nest, about five feet from the ground. The performance was a wonderful one, for the weight of the wood sufficed to keep the nest tolerably firm, while it was yet light enough to yield to the wind, and so prevent further injury. The piece of wood was about two and a half inches long, and as thick as a goose quill. On the following day a careless servant knocked her head against the wood and it fell down. But in the course of a few hours the spider had found it and brought it back to its place. When the storm ceased the spider mended her web, broke the supporting thread, and let the wood fall to the ground!

The following interesting observation on the intelligence of snakes shows, not only that these animals are well able to distinguish persons, but also that they possess an intensity of amiable emotion scarcely to be expected in this class. A writer to the London "Times" thus describes the behavior of some pet snakes kept by a gentleman and lady of his acquaintance:

"Mr. M——, after we had talked for a little time, asked if I had any fear of snakes; and after a timid 'No, not very,' from me, he produced out of a cupboard a large boa-constrictor, a python, and several small snakes, which at once made themselves at home on the writing table among pens, ink, and books. I was at first a good deal startled, especially when the two large snakes coiled round and round my friend, and began to notice me with their bright eyes and forked tongues; but soon finding how tame they were, I ceased to feel

frightened. After a short time Mr. M—— expressed a wish to call Mrs. M——, and left me with the boa deposited on an arm-chair. I felt a little queer when the animal began gradually to come near, but the entrance of my host and hostess, followed by two charming little children, put me at my ease again. After the first interchange of civilities, she and the children went at once to the boa, and, calling it by the most en-