“When water is put on the fire, it first gets hot, then begins to boil, sending off vapor, which is dissipated in the air. If the boiling continues some time, it ends with there being nothing in the pot; all the water has disappeared.”“My brother seems to reason correctly; I agree with him,” said Claire.“He is the engineer. He holds his hand on the throttle, which allows the steam from the boiler to enter the cylinders in greater or less quantity, according to the speed he wishes to obtain. By one movement of the throttle, the steam is cut off from the cylinders and the engine stops; by another movement the steam is admitted and the locomotive moves, slowly or rapidly at will. 极速pk拾在线计划 “Then the ice said: ‘The sun is stronger than I, and it melts me.’“The smith’s work will not make the copper rust cease to be a poison,” replied Uncle Paul, “but it will prevent the rust’s forming. Of the common metals tin rusts the least. Exposed to the air a long time, it scarcely tarnishes. And then the rust, which forms in small quantities, is innocuous, like iron rust. To prevent copper from covering itself with poisonous green spots, to preserve it from rust, it must be kept from contact with damp air and also with certain alimentary substances such as vinegar, oil, grease—substances that provoke the rapid formation of rust. For this reason the copper saucepan is coated over with tin inside. Under the thin bed of tin which covers it, the copper cannot rust, because it is no longer in contact with the air. The tin remains; but this metal changes with difficulty, and, besides, its rust, if it forms any, is harmless. So they plate copper, that is to say they cover it with a thin bed of tin, to prevent its rusting, and thus to prevent the formation of the dangerous poison that might, some day or other, be mixed with our food.“And what is to be seen at sea?” “That, my little friends, is what one does not fail to wish when one is in the clouds, which, so beautiful at a distance, are nothing but gloomy fog when close at hand. The spectacle of the clouds should be seen from afar. When in our curiosity we wish to examine certain appearances too closely, we sometimes find them deceptive; but we also find that, under a secondary brilliancy, which serves to adorn the earth, they hide realities of the first importance. The marvels of the clouds are only an appearance, an illusion of light; but under this illusion are concealed the reservoirs of rain, source of the earth’s fecundity. God, by whom the smallest details of creation have been ordered, willed that the most common but also most necessary substances should serve as an ornament to the earth in spite of their really humble aspect; and he clothes them with a prestige dependent on the distance from which we are to contemplate them. The gray vapor of the clouds gives us rain. That is its chief utility. The sun illuminates it, and that suffices to transform it into a celestial tapestry in which the astonished eye finds the splendor of purple, gold and fire. That is its ornamental function. “The wind disturbs the surface of the ocean. If it comes in gusts, it creates waves that leap with foaming crest and break against one another. If it is strong and continuous, it chases the waters in long swells, in waves or surges that advance from the open in parallel lines, succeed one another with a majestic uniformity, and one after another rush booming on to the shore. These movements, however tumultuous they may be, affect only the surface of the sea; thirty meters down the water is calm, even in the most violent storms.“I would not burn them for lime,” said Jules, “if I found such beautiful shells. See how red the opening is, how beautifully the edges are pleated.”“THE explanations of this morning account for the formation of clouds. A continual evaporation takes place on the surface of the damp earth as well as on the surface of the different sheets of water, lakes, ponds, marshes, streams, and above all the sea. The vapors formed rise into the air and remain invisible as long as the heat is sufficient. But since heat diminishes as the height increases, there comes a time when the vapors can no longer be kept in complete solution, and they condense into a mass of visible vapor, into a fog or cloud.“Well, this initial state of the insect, this worm, first form of youth, is called the larva. The wonderful change which transforms the larva into a perfect insect is called metamorphosis. Caterpillars are larv?. By metamorphosis they turn into those beautiful butterflies whose wings, decorated with the richest colors, fill us with admiration. The Argus, now so beautiful with its celestial blue wings, was first a poor hairy caterpillar; the splendid swallow-tail began by being a green caterpillar with black stripes across it and red spots on its sides. Out of these despicable vermin metamorphosis has made those delightful creatures which only the flowers can rival in elegance.“And what does the bee do with its wax?” “Then the walls said: ‘The rat is stronger than we; it bores holes through us.’“Corollas with petals all joined together are called monopetalous corollas,” continued Uncle Paul. 极速pk拾在线计划 “The movement of the waves alone would not suffice to insure the incorruptibility of sea-water. Another cause of salubrity comes in here. The waters of the sea hold in solution numerous substances that give it an extremely disagreeable taste, but prevent its corruption.”“That is quite natural,” said Jules, “since Uncle has just told us that the rubbed sheet of paper takes to itself the very essence of thunder, only in a very small quantity.”“You are doing us a great service, Ma?tre Paul,” said Jean, “by putting us on our guard against these dangerous plants. Every one at home ought to know what you have just taught us, so as not to gather a salad of hemlock instead of chervil.”Louis picked one of the berries and put it into his mouth. It was insipid and sweetish. “Is that all? Oh, no. Those poor plant-lice are manna, the regular diet of all sorts of ravagers. Young birds eat them, the hemerobius eats them, lady-birds eat them, gluttons of all kinds eat them; and still there are always plant-lice. Ah! that is where, in the fight between fecundity which repairs and the rough battle of life which destroys, the weak excel by opposing legions and legions to the chances of annihilation. In vain the devourers come from all sides and pounce upon their prey; the devoured survive by sacrificing a million to preserve one. The weaker they are, the more fruitful they are.“Stop that cruel play, my child. The snail does not sing; it is complaining, in its own way, of the fiery tortures. Its slime, coagulated by the heat, first swells and then shrinks, and the air that escapes by little puffs produces that dying wail.“Those sparks are not fire,” replied Uncle Paul. “You all remember the stick of sealing-wax which, after being rubbed on cloth, attracts little pieces of straw and paper. I told you that electricity, aroused by friction, is what makes the paper draw to the wax. Well, in rubbing the cat’s back with my hand I produce electricity, but in greater abundance, so much so that it becomes visible where it was at first invisible, and bursts forth in sparks.”“Oh, how simple!” cried Jules. “And yet not one of us would have thought of it.” “With its legs, armed with sharp-toothed little claws like combs, the spider draws the thread from its spinnerets as it has need. If it wishes to descend, like the one this morning that came down from the ceiling on to Mother Ambroisine’s shoulder, it glues the end of the thread to the point of departure and lets itself fall perpendicularly. The thread is drawn from the spinnerets by the weight of the spider, and the latter, softly suspended, descends to any depth it wishes, and as slowly as it pleases. In order to ascend again, it climbs up the thread by folding it gradually into a skein between its legs. For a second descent, the spider has only to let its skein of silk unwind little by little.“If the little pink-nosed cat were born without ears, paws, tail, fur, mustaches, if it were simply a little ball of flesh, and should some day have to acquire all at once, while asleep, ears, paws, tail, fur, mustaches, and many other things, is it not true that this work of life would necessitate materials gathered together beforehand and held in reserve in the fatty tissues of the animal? No thing can be made from nothing; the smallest hair of the cat’s mustache shoots forth at the expense of the substance of the animal, substance which it acquires by eating. “In future,” said Jules, stoutly, “it can rain sulphur or blood; if any one is afraid, it will not be I.”Arum“When Mother Ambroisine hangs the clothes she has just washed on the line, what does she do it for? To dry the linen, to free it from the water with which it is saturated. Well, what becomes of this water, if you please?” 极速pk拾在线计划 MOTHER AMBROISINE called Claire. A friend had just come to see her to learn about an embroidery stitch that troubled her. At the request of Jules and Emile, however, Uncle Paul continued. He knew Jules would take pleasure in repeating the conversation to his sister.In his unselfish eagerness to see the truths of natural science brought within the comprehension and the enjoyment of all, Fabre would have been the first to wish for a wide circulation for his own books in many countries and many languages; and thus, though it is now too late to obtain his authorization of these translations, one cannot regard it as a wrong to his memory to do what may lie in one’s power to spread the knowledge he has so wisely and wittily, with such insight and ingenuity, imparted to those of his own country and tongue.“WHEN the snail crawls, it bears aloft, as you know, four horns.” “It need not be said that the bees’ pedagogic methods are not the same as ours. Man, as much mind as matter, if not more, turns his attention above all to the generous impulses of the heart, the noble aspirations of the soul. With bees education is purely animal, and is governed by the dictates of the belly. The kind of food makes either the queen or the working-bee. For the larv? that are to discharge the functions of royalty the nurses prepare a special pap, a royal dish of which only they know the secret. Whoever eats of it is consecrated queen.“In the autumn we cut mushrooms in slices and dry them in the sun. They are excellent food for winter. The poisonous mushrooms rot without drying. The good ones keep.”CHAPTER XXIV THE METAMORPHOSIS“Objects seem to us small in proportion to their distance from us, until finally they become invisible. A high mountain seen from afar seems only a moderate-sized hill; the cross that surmounts a steeple, seen from below, looks very small despite its very large dimensions. It is the same with the sun: it looks so small only because it is very far off; and as the distance is prodigious, its size must be excessive; if not, instead of looking to us like a dazzling grindstone, it would cease to be visible to us.