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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/147

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

are the centers around which life in the Chinese colonies revolves, furnishing supplies of Chinese wares, and serving as clubrooms and assembly-halls. Nearly all of the Chinese in America have passed some of their early years at school, where they learned to write some of the characters in their language, and to read it with more or less facility. Among the immigrants from Hoh-Shan and the districts adjacent to Canton are found many of considerable attainments—not men who would be considered scholars in China, but clerks, who are able to read and understand much of the classical literature of their country, and whose sympathies and traditions are allied with those of the literary aristocracy. This class forms a small part, however, of the whole number.

 

The Table-topped Hills of the Amazon.—To any one ascending the Amazon River, said Mr. James W. Wells, in the Royal Geographical Society, a most noticeable feature strikes his attention, in the table topped hills of the Serras de Erere and Obidos, and the somewhat similar formation on the opposite bank, at the rear of the Santarem. These opposite islands form the walls of the valley through which the river, once probably a great inland lake, has excavated its way to the sea. Their summits, instead of being ridges, extend in the form of undulating savannas far inland, ever ascending, furrowed with hollows and valleys by many a stream or water-course. Strange and interesting as is the appearance of these cliffs of one thousand feet in height, yet they are not exceptional features of the basin of the Amazons; at its farther western extremity, in the Serra de Cupati, bordering on the banks of the Rio Japura, and also on the western face of the Chapada da Mangabeira, are encountered identical formations, and even to the north in Roraima and its brother Kukenam, also exists a somewhat similar appearance. These great, precipitous bluffs, and isolated table-topped hills are indicative, or at least suggestive, of a great denudation that has either long since occurred, or is yet happening. The Chapada da Mangabeira rises gradually and by regular gradients from the San Francisco River to the divide, where it appears as perpendicular walls of sandstone, with flat summits, and looks, when viewed from the east, like gigantic fortresses. The base of these cliffs is composed of a natural earth-slope of the modern débris of the fallen materials of the walls. Evidence is presented that this tableland extended yet farther to the west from twenty to sixty miles. The vegetation and soil of the tops of these miniature Roraimas are precisely similar to those of the great plateau, whereas the vegetation of the surrounding lowlands is quite different in character.

 

Some Notes about Bees.—A recently published book by Mr. Frank R. Cheshire, lecturer at South Kensington, gives some curious items of information about bees. A lens magnifying fifty times will reveal the tracheae, and also the beautiful "salivary glands," which a skillful operator may extract through the head, after immersing the insect up to its neck in wax. There is considerable discussion among apiarists as to the uses of these glands, in which is incidentally included the question whether bees feed their young by regurgitating semi-digested food, or by a glandular system producing a nutritive secretion. Mr. Cheshire finds in the digestive system, in which "the salivary and gastric secretions perform precisely the same functions in both,". . . a most helpful similarity of physical structure between mankind and bees." Bees have, however, the great advantage over mankind of being able to carry a large stock of food and drink in their insides, and of having the power of feeding upon these stores by means of what is called the "stomach-mouth," at pleasure; or, if they choose, they can convert these provisions into building-materials. Their foot is furnished with a very sharp and powerful claw, and with a sort of soft pad that gives out a clammy secretion, by means of which they are able to walk on smooth surfaces. It is by the claws that bees hang one to another in swarming. The cutting off of a bee's head does not apparently of necessity kill it; for "drones in confinement will sometimes live very much longer without their heads than with them." The head, however, is not an unimportant part of the bee, which has a larger proportion of brain than many other insects. The