« PreviousContinue »
Odd Things Which Live in the Sea.
The "Terribella" has a wreathe of tentacles about its head and extends them in search of food, quickly withdrawing into its home if alarmed. More interesting to me are the tube shelters of the "Serpula." They look like a twisted, snarled bunch of fossil worms. My first view of an inhabitant was when one reached out a dainty little rose and cream striped morning glory from a freshly gathered specimen. I held my breath. What would come next? There was the flower, even to a seed capsule and a rose red stem, and around it began to appear fine, thread-like feelers of the same color. Then came another morning glory, much lighter in tint, and more tentacles. No doubt the worm was as surprised at its surroundings as was I at its appearance. I touched the blossoms, and instantly one withdrew, and then the tentacles and then the other morning glory which I found fitted perfectly into the round opening of the shell.
It was the "operculum" or door. Soon from the other openings appeared wee striped flowers. Apparently some instinct has apprised the colony of its removal from its native habitat.
Speaking of sea flowers reminds me of the anemones which were recognized as animals over two thousand years ago. They live a stationary life, usually in some swift current which brings to them a supply of food; this they suck in greedily and by its absorption are nourished. However, they can move from place to place by means of a
basal disk or foot.
Some anemones are twenty inches in diameter. They inflate the body with water and then expel it through the mouth and tentacles. These are numerous and can be extended or withdrawn at will. Because of rapid growth, the anemones like caterpillars frequently change their skins. They possess stinging cells, as do the hydroids, and by the detachment of a small piece from the pedal disk they may multiply themselves. This is also accomplished by budding and by eggs. An instance is cited where an anemone lived in captivity for six years. Eggs from its young hatched at the end of two months. Therefore increase is rapid with these many and delicately colored living flowers, which can be found with but little effort, as they are never in deep water.
Oh, the harvest of beautiful, rare and curious things which the beach yields when the tide is out. Lovely white butterfly shells from the back of some long-dead chiton, sea weeds of yellow and red and green, and possibly crawling upon them the "marine geometer," holding itself very stiff or measuring off distances just as do the terrestrial ones. And everywhere on the northern coast great colonies of the acorn barnacle, each in its tightly-closed box. But watch when again the water begins to flow over their localities. how the lids open and the dainty fringe of fingers reach forth for food as if realizing the importance of the adage: "Time and tide wait for no man."
A Mystery of the Sea
BY LOYOLA L. MILLS, U. S. A.
HUS runs the sailor's proverb of the hurricanes of the West India Islands, a proverb known by heart by all those who have seen these revolving storms go sweeping by, leaving death and desolation in their wake. "September, remember," said Captain Thomas, of the British tramp Foxhall, slowly to himself, as on September 8th, late in the afternoon he was nearing the Windward Fassage, en route from Cape Town to Galveston. "Wonder if we'll make it this time without a blow," he mused, looking toward the southeast, where cloud bank was rising, around which at short intervals played flashes of lightning. "Doesn't look very good for this time o' year, eh! Mr. Munson?" he said, addressing his first officer, at the same time pointing to the southeast. "Is everything on deck secured?"
"Yes, sir," the mate replied; "the bos'n just reported everything doubly lashed."
Darkness falls rapidly in the tropics, and in a short time after the sun sank from sight the Foxhall was wrapped in inky darkness, which more clearly revealed the flashes of lightning from the southeast. "Keep her west by nor' til seven bells, then let her go nor' nor' west," said the skipper as he started below to answer the summons of the dinner bell. His foot was on the first step of the ladder leading to the deck below, when-swish! something about the size of a potato shot past his ear, then, spat! something cold and clammy struck him full in the face.
While Captain Thomas was trying to figure out what had struck him, Mr. Munson, on the other end of the bridge was yelling: "Get out, you beast, get out-le' go my ear! le' go." "What is it?" sang out the Captain; "Jersey mosquitoes?" "No, it's bats," said Munson. "Look here, this one was trying to make a nest in my ear." "Where did they come from?" asked the skipper, savagely eyeing the creature. "From the islands, replied the first mate; "they are gettin' away from a hurricane. They're a sure sign of a blow," he continued, "a sure sign. I've navigated these parts nigh on to twenty years, and never knew it to fail. If we don't see some fun to-night, then I miss my guess." The mate was right. Before six bells in the first watch the storm broke with all the fury of its kind, lashing the sea into a yeasty foam. For a while it looked as if the ship could not stand the strain; she pitched and rolled, shaking herself clear of one sea, only to struggle with a bigger one. By skillful handling and the use of oil a catastrophe was averted. So next morning found the Foxhall weather beaten but able to proceed. Early on the morning of the ninth Rebecca Shoal light was made on the starboard beam, distant ten miles. The departure was taken, and the course set, across the Gulf of Mexico for Galveston. "We ought to pick up the Bolivar Point Light at three o'clock in the mornning," said the skipper, emerging from the chart house, where he had been figuring out the course and distance. "Will you run right in, sir, or lay to till daylight?" asked Mr. Munson. "Lay to," laughed the skipper; "lay to off Galveston? Why I know that harbor as well as I know the streets of Glasgow!
No, sir-ee! We'll be past the health officer before sunrise."
If Captain Thomas had only had only known what the next twenty-four hours would reveal and the sight that awaited them in Galveston, he would not have been so confident of an early arrival. At three bells (one-thirty) in the mid-watch the captain was called according to his orders. He awoke with a start. He had been dreaming of ghosts, and gave a sigh of relief to find it was enly a dream. Coming on deck the cool sea breeze thoroughly awakened him, but try as he would he could not shake off the nervous feeling caused by his dream. The creaking of a derrick block caused him to shudder visibly. "Have "Have that block secured, sir," he said to the officer of the watch. The officer looked surprised. The "Old Man" The "Old Man" had never been so particular before. A seaman with a rope yarn soon silenced the block, but the captain's nervousness increased. At the time calculated for Bolivar Point Light to be seen, all hands were trying to pierce the darkness ahead. Seven bells were struck and no light in sight. The "old man" was pacing the bridge like a caged tiger, stopping at every turn to peer with his night glasses into the gloom. "Mind your helm, there!" he yelled to the man at the wheel who had let her run off half a point. "Keep her steady." Turning suddenly, he asked the officer of the watch if the search-light was ready. "All ready, sir," the officer replied. "Have it turned on, then," he said. "Aye, aye, sir," said the officer, repeating the order to the electrician, who was stationed to operate it. The current was switched on, and the instrument began to click, as the carbons automatically came together; then, with a swishing sound, a beam. of light shot out across the water. The air was misty, causing the finger of light to reveal grotesquely the night birds, as they circled and careened in its wake. Every eye was expectantly following the path of
light, when suddenly the captain cried: "Look! My God! do you see that? Back her! Back her! For God's sake, back her!" he shouted. The third mate pulled the handle of the telegraph back, to which signal the engines promptly responded. "Does anybody see it?" hoarseiy whispered the skipper, pointing a shaking finger at the ghost. For a ghost it was, floating lightly on the air in the beam of light, its long arms waving frantically, as if to warn them back. Once it vanished, then re-appeared, gesticulating more frantically than before; then disappeared, and was seen no more. Every one saw it and felt fear in his bones. The next instant the ship struck, and ground her nose in the sand. But the engines were doing their work, and she backed off, rolling deeply in the ground swell. She continued backing until well clear, when the anchor was let go.
"Here is the ghost, captain," exclaimed the electrician who had been operating the search-light, holding up a badly scorched bat by the wing. It had found its way in
the search-light during the shower of bats off the Windward Passage. When the current was turned on its shadow projected on the beam of light, producing the apparition that scared all hands out of a year's growth, but saved the ship from sure destruction. Bolivar Point light, as well as the whole city of Galveston had been destroyed by the hurricane of September eighth, in which thousands of lives and millions of dollars in property, had been lost, and had it not been for the timely intervention. of a harmless insect eater, the crew of the "Foxhall" would have been added to the list of the missing.
Under a glass case in the captain's cabin visitors to the "Foxhall" are to-day shown a fine specimen of the West Indian bat, mounted with all the care of the taxidermist's art, and if its fur is a little scorched, that fact only adds to the estimation in which it is held by all on board.
BY EDWIN MOXEY, Law Department W. Va. University
HE birth of a new State is
T always a matter of interest
from the standpoint of international law, as well as from the standpoint of politics. The degree of interest, however, varies with. the circumstances of birth and importance of the new State. The circumstances in the present case are of unusual interest because of their departure from the slow and prosaic course of events ordinarily expected in the process of State-building. Nor is the new State an unimportant one. For, notwithstanding its territorial smallness, its location endows it with a wealth of importance to the whole commercial world. As the attitude of the United States toward the new Republic has occasioned no small amount of criticism, though nowhere has this criticism been so virulent as in the United States Senate, it is fitting that we study soberly the action of our Government from the standpoint of international law. These critics insist that the United States fomented the revolution upon the Isthmus, recognized the Republic of Panama prematurely, disregarded our obligations to Colombia under the treaty of 1846, and that the President and Senate are attempting under the treaty-making power to usurp powers which properly belong to the House. As to the first of these, there is no evidence that the administration did anything to foment trouble upon the Isthmus. The accusation rests entirely upon supposition. If the revolution could be accounted for upon no other ground than the theory of guilty co-operation upon the part of the United States, the above supposi tion would have a logical basis upon which to rest.
But no such explanation is nec
essary in order to explain the facts. There was ample incentive to revolt, apart from any outside interference. The people of the Isthmus Isthmus had never derived any very substantial benefit from their political connection with Colombia. Only about one-tenth of the revenues collected from them were spent for their benefit, and what protection they re ceived they received from the United States. To be thus used as a political asset for the benefit of a knot of corrupt politicians at Bogota was certainly not well calculated to strengthen their feeling of allegiance.
Viewed in the light of Colombia's past indifference toward the welfare of her Isthmian provinces, it seems entirely natural that when their interests were selfishly sacrificed and their reasonable hopes blighted by the political narrowness which rejected the Hay-Herran Treaty, the people of the Isthmus should have done exactly what they did, viz: dissolve the political bond which kept them from rendering the service and reaping the benefit which God and nature intended they should. It is an injustice not to concede to those people, situated upon the world's highway of commerce, some degree of intelligence some degree of self-interest. Not to have manifested a determination that this great natural resource, due to their situation, be used to their own and the benefit of mankind, rather than senselessly wasted, would have been unmistakable evidence of an imperative need for the appointment of a commission of lunacy. But conceding to them some intelligence and ordinary interests, it is not difficult to understand how ten million dollars, plus a yearly income in cash, plus the immense