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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/440

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

A Motherly Insect.—Among insects, as a rule, parents do not trouble themselves much about their little ones. They instinctively deposit their eggs in spots where the larva? issuing from them will find a well-provided table, and then go away, leaving the larvae to look out for themselves. Not so, says M. Albert Larbalétrier, in La Nature, with the earwigs. The female of this insect lays her eggs in the spring in bunches in a cool and dark place; then she sits on them, covering them in every way she can, leaving them only when she goes for food. If they get scattered she immediately finds it out, bestirs herself, looks about, and gathers them up, one by one, till she has got them together again. They hatch out during the first half of June. The larva? are at first white, weak, imperfect in form, and hardly able to move. If left to themselves they would certainly perish very soon. The mother, however, does not leave them any more than she did her eggs; but she takes care of them, brings them food during their first days, and then guides them to the plants in the neighborhood. The little ones, too, as if aware of their weakness, do not wander away from their mother, and at the first sign of danger gather around her as chickens around a hen. The mother stays with the larvæ through all their moltings, till they are transformed into perfect insects, when she is taken away from them by death.

 

The Cherokee Theory of Disease.—The Cherokee doctor, according to Mr. James Mooney, in treating disease works to drive out a ghost or a devil. According to the Cherokee myth, disease was invented by the animals in revenge for the injuries inflicted upon them by the human race. The larger animals saw themselves killed and eaten by man, while the smaller animals, reptiles, and insects were trampled upon and wantonly tortured, until it seemed that their only hope of safety lay in devising some way to check the increase of mankind. The bears held the first council, but were unable to fix upon any plan of procedure, and dispersed without accomplishing anything. Consequently, the hunter never asks pardon of the bear when he kills one. Next the deer assembled, and, after much discussion, invented rheumatism, but decreed at the same time that if the hunter, driven by necessity to kill a deer, should ask its pardon according to a certain formula, he should not be injured. Since then, every hunter who has been initiated into the mysteries, asks pardon of the slain deer. When this is neglected, through ignorance or carelessness, the "Little Deer," the chief of the deer tribe, who can never die or be wounded, tracks the hunter to his home by the blood-drops on the ground, and puts the rheumatism spirit into him. Sometimes the hunter, on starting to return to his home, builds a fire in the trail behind him to prevent pursuit by the Little Deer. Later on, councils were held by other animals, birds, fishes, reptiles, and insects, each one inventing some new disease to inflict upon humanity, down even to the grub-worm, who became so elated at the bright prospect in view that in his joy he sprang into the air, but fell over backward and had to wriggle off on his back, as the grub-worm does to this day. When the plants, who were friendly to the human race, heard what had been done by the animals, they held a council, and each plant agreed to furnish a remedy for some corresponding disease when man should call upon it for help. While the great majority of diseases are thus caused by revengeful animal spirits, some are also caused by ghosts, witches, or violations of ceremonial regulations.

 

Instinctive Movements of Children.—M. Alfred Binet maintains, in the Revue Philosophique, that the attempts of infants to walk are instinctive, and not the result of education. This seems to be indicated by the more or less correlated movements which an infant only three weeks old will keep up if the soles of its feet are allowed to touch lightly a suitable surface. M. Binet believes that the time at which a child learns to walk depends, not on bodily conditions only, but on its mental characteristics also. He thinks he has established as a fact that a child that can give its mind to placing its steps, and whose attention is not easily distracted, learns to walk at an earlier age and in a shorter time than more restless children; and that such children are characterized in later life by the important faculty of