Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/May 1898/Correspondence



Editor Popular Science Monthly:

DEAR SIR: Late last autumn, just as the winter was beginning, I drew from our well one evening a live frog. It was getting dusk, and, as I was about to pour the water into the teakettle, my little girl said, "Mamma, there is something in that water"; so we took a cup and fished Mr. Frog out of the bucket. We put him in a "Mason" quart jar with some water, and there he has lived all winter without anything to eat, and unless he in some manner drew sustenance from the water, which we changed frequently, I do not know what he lived upon.

Our frog proved a better weather prophet than De Voe, for he invariably warned us when there was going to be a change in the weather. We had had him only a few days when, one night, after we had retired, we heard a slow, low, grating sound from the sitting room; for some minutes we could not imagine what it could be; again it came—a sort of low g-r-r-r; then it occurred to us it must be the frog. We wondered what it meant, for it was the first time he had made a sound, unless when the children handled him and squeezed him a little too tightly. The next day was cold and stormy, and from that time on we noticed that whenever the weather changed our frog always croaked the night before; I do not think he ever did in the daytime. Sometimes he gave only one croak, but we have counted nine, yet he never croaked very loud nor but one series of croaks.

When the weather was warmer he would sit up in the water, and if the sun shone he would swim and splash in a lively manner; but when the days were quite cold and cloudy he would lie in the bottom of the jar entirely under the water, and if it was very shallow would flatten himself out until as flat as one's hand.

We put in more water and placed a large pebble in the jar to see if he would sit upon that when he wished to be at the surface, but he did not; he simply floated on the surface if he could not sit up with his head out.

Our frog is a pretty creature too. His eyes are gold with a spot of jet for the pupil; he has two gilt stripes down the back just at each edge; his body is gray lichen color with spots of dark wood color, which vary in size and shape, each spot edged with a hair line of gilt; his sides and the edges of the thighs are of a green tint which shade to white underneath.

A curious incident occurred the night of February 4th. A cup of salt water had been left on the table, and one of the family coming in hastily and wishing a drink, without knowing what it was, poured the salt water into the frog's jar. The next morning Mr. Frog was stretched out on his back on the top of the water, cold and stiff and puckered up till not larger than my thumb. I took him out of the jar, but he did not move, so I tossed him on the table and let him lie there until I had made the kitchen fire. Then I thought to experiment: I would put him in fresh water; I did so, and in the course of half an hour I was surprised to see him flop over right side up, although still pretty well shriveled up; I again changed the water, and in a little while he had apparently resumed his normal condition, and ever since has prophesied for us as before.

Sarah A. Edenburn.
Des Moines, Iowa, March 1, 1898.


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Dear Sir: A beautiful painting of Louis XIV when a child of five years suggested the relation of the following anecdote, which the narrator assured the writer was authentic:

When the French revolutionists were breaking into the tombs of their kings and throwing the bodies into the Seine, it was found that the heart of Louis XIV had been taken out by the embalmer and preserved in a leathern sack. The heart had shrunken to about the size of a mulberry. An English officer, at the time in Paris, rescued the heart and carried it off to England, where it was preserved by a family represented to-day by one of England's most distinguished statesmen, the name being here withheld for personal reasons. The family caused to be made a golden receptacle, with a glass top, to hold this treasure, and it was frequently shown to guests, who were not supposed to open the lid.

Every one familiar with the history of geology knows the name of Dean Buckland as one of the English fathers of the science, who was also one of the most absent-minded, and late in life became the most eccentric of men, owing to brain disease. Upon being shown the casket he immediately opened it and, before the heart could be rescued, he, according to his habit of tasting minerals (as is the case with all mineralogists), not only tasted it but swallowed it! Thus disappeared the last remains of the great king.

J. D. Spencer.
Washington, D. C., March 21, 1898.