Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/371

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sity need humble itself to seek the favor of either plutocracy or democracy if its graduates can convince mankind, by their own lives, that its aim is not to gain deference or success or distinction or reward of any sort, but solely to propagate and diffuse among mankind "that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of veracity, which is a greater possession than much learning, a nobler gift than the power of increasing knowledge."


LONG ago, in the old Devonian times, when life was very leisurely, all the beasts and people that there were lived in the sea together. The air was dull and murky on the land. It was so light that it gave no support to the body, and so those that ventured about in it had to lie prone on the ground all the time wherever they went. So they preferred to stay in the water, where motion is much easier. Then, too, water is so much better to breathe than air, if one has gills fitted for it! He has only to open his mouth and the water rushes in. Then he has only to shut his mouth and the water rushes out backward, bathing his gills on the way. Thus, the air dissolved in the water purifies all the little drops of blood that run up and back through the slender tubes of which the gills are made.

But in those days, besides the gills, some of the beasts of the sea had also a sac in the throat above the stomach in which they could stow away air which they took from the atmosphere itself. This served them in good stead when they were in crowded places, in which the air dissolved in the water would fail them.

And those which were so provided used to venture farther and farther out of the water, pushing their way heavily on the ground. And those which could put forth most effort survived, until at last their descendants were able to maintain themselves on the land altogether. These gave rise to the races of reptiles and birds and mammals, the ancestors of all the land beasts that you know, as well as men and women and all the monkey people. But it was very long ago when this happened, and because these ancestors came finally out of the water they have no part in the story I am trying to tell to-day.

Those that remained in the water grew more and more contented with their condition. Because the medium in which they lived was as heavy as their bodies, they swam without much effort,