Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/546

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house, sometimes at the top and sometimes at the bottom of the glass; and it was then that I discovered the wonder of the tiny creature's eyes, the alertness of his intelligence, the extraordinary flexibility of the minute joint upon which the head is made to turn. He was not at all alarmed by the dangling black button, which he evidently mistook for a particularly choice dinner; but he was plainly puzzled, and finally distressed, by his inability to attain possession of this alluring dainty, seemingly within his very grasp.

So long as the button was in his sight, his whole being was absorbed in the effort to possess it; but, that object removed from his vision, he made the surface of the glass his study, feeling it with his thread-like tongue, and stretching out his anterior, raptorial feet, with an evident air of inquiry, along the transparent walls that shut him in so incomprehensibly.

Of course, the captive could not long remain in such a prison, and at this juncture a small boy came to the rescue. When the devil'sriding-horse is a subject of study, the small boy is an invaluable coadjutor; he quickly becomes expert as a purveyor of delicacies in the shape of living insects, for dead ones the dainty mantis will not deign to accept. The small boy, in this instance, perceiving at once the value of my captive, and the inadequacy of his lodging, forthwith provided a discarded fly-trap of wire gauze, cylindrical in form, six inches in diameter, and about nine inches in height, surmounted by a top of tin. The lack of a fixed flooring was supplied by a bit of cardboard.

The devil's-riding-horse was manifestly pleased with his transference to his more spacious abode, and he looked about him with a very comical air of studious observation. The wire gauze offered no more obstacle to his locomotion than did the glass, but he was plainly puzzled over the difference between the walls of this prison-house and those of the one he had left: for a little while he seemed to be weighing the problem intently, putting out a cautious claw for inquiry, and turning his head with an expression of deep attention from side to side, and pausing every now and then, in his upward course, to examine this strange new surface.

The first meal we offered our fantastic guest was a dead fly, but this he disdained in any way to notice; though he was repeatedly shaken to the bottom of the cage where the dead fly lay, he refused even to see it. Thereafter our fastidious captive had his meals served to him au naturel. The living fly was simply turned loose in the cage, and instantly the devil's-riding-horse was on the alert: warily he crept up the sides of the cage, settled himself in a position to spring, and then the fly would move, and the slow, laborious work of creeping upon his prey had all to be