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people, so that when the crops were destroyed by the potato disease, which first appeared in Ireland in 1846, a terrible famine was the consequence, and misery and sickness spread all over the country. This disease, which rots the root of the potato, has continued, more or less, since that time, and is not at present fully understood. It is supposed to arise partly from the weather, and partly from the same kind of potatoes being planted over and over again in the same soil.
Starch and sago are made from the root of the potato, and in Prussia both sugar and treacle are obtained from it.
The fourth kind of root is called fusiform, or spindleshaped, and plants of this sort, like the carrot, radish, and parsnip, have no stem, but the leaves rise directly from the thick upper portion of the root, and the young plants are obtained from seed. If you cut a carrot across you will see it is divided into two parts, of different colours, the bark, which is the darkest colour, and the wood, which forms the centre. The bark is the most nourishing; and, therefore, those carrots are considered the best which have most of the dark-coloured part in the root. The carrot, like the potato, did not grow naturally in England, but was brought here from Holland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Besides their use as human food, carrots are eaten by cows, sheep, and pigs, and are considered a more wholesome vegetable than either turnips or cabbages.
The roots of some plants are also very useful as medicines, while others are employed as dyes' in our different manufactures. The rhubarb, which is used in medicine, is a root brought chiefly from Turkey and Arabia. Ginger is the tuberous root of a plant that grows very freely in both the East and West Indies, and was first brought to Europe by the Dutch. The blue dye, that is so much used in our cotton and silk manufactures, is obtained from the indigo plant, which grows in the hot countries of Asia, Africa, and America ; and the lilac colour, which is the prettiest and most lasting in our cotton prints, is given by the root of a humble little plant called the madder. It grows in the south of England, but is cultivated more largely abroad, and thousands of pounds are spent every year in purchasing this little dried root to form the dye of our lilac calicos.
(To be continued.)
THE TRANSPORT OF SEEDS. I have before mentioned that earth occasionally, though rarely, adheres in some quantity to the feet and beaks of birds. Wading birds, which frequent the muddy edges of ponds, if suddenly flushed, would be the most likely to have muddy feet. Birds of this order I can show are the greatest wanderers, and are occasionally found on the most remote and barren islands in the open ocean ; they would not be likely to alight on the surface of the sea, so that the dirt would not be washed off their feet; when making land they would be sure to fly to their natural fresh-water haunts. I do not believe that botanists are aware how charged the mud of ponds is with seeds ; I have tried several little experiments, but will here give only the most striking case ; I took in February three table spoonfuls of mud from three different points, beneath water, on the edge of a little pond; this mud, when dried, weighed only 64 ounces; I kept it covered up in my study for six months, pulling up and counting each plant as it grew; the plants were of many kinds, and were altogether 537 in number ; and yet the viscid mud was all contained in a breakfast cup! Considering these facts, I think it would be an inexplicable circumstance if water-birds did not transport the seeds of fresh-water plants to vast distances, and if consequently the range of these plants was not very great. The same agency may have come into play with the eggs of some of the smaller fresh-water animals.--Darwin's Origin of Species.
WILLIE BENSON, OR STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS.
IN THREE CHAPTERS.
CHAPTER III. ALTHOUGH William's relations did not quite approve of the employment he had taken up, they would probably have allowed him to continue it, had it not been for the kind interference of the lady who had given him the tract.
Being much in the habit of visiting the homes of the poor, this lady ventured to call upon Mrs. Murray, and earnestly entreated that she would permit her little nephew to attend a very excellent free school which had recently been established in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Murray consented with some surprise, but with no unwillingness, and Willie was very glad to give up crossing-sweeping, when he found that he could as effectually keep out of his aunt's way by attending school. Old Nanny, too, had now sufficiently recovered to be able to resume her business, so that he felt no scruple on her account.
His schoolfellows were all very poor, and for the most part rather ragged and dirty; but William, on the whole, liked his school very much, and made such progress in reading and writing that he grew reconciled to his London life; though still every night, when all was dark and quiet, he cried a little after his mother.
He had heard from her once. Immediately after her arrival in Bombay she had written to say that she was quite well, but was longing to be home again, and that she hoped soon to meet with some family who were coming over to England, and who would take her with them,--paying her passage money in return for her services during the voyage. This letter gave Willie great comfort at the time; but, as days and weeks passed away, and brought no Mrs. Benson, a childish fear began to steal over him that perhaps she would forget all about Rhoda and himself, and would never return to them again.
His aunt could not at all understand him ; but, won by his good humour, gentleness, and obedience, she ceased to treat him unkindly; and one fine day in early spring, when her sons were going to their father's manufactory, she actually
proposed that he should accompany them, as a reward, she said, for his “ good behaviour.”
The three boys were to cross the river in a penny boat, and to go in a boat seemed to Willie the height of felicity. He had never yet seen the Thames and was full of curiosity about it.
“ Is it pretty, is it beautiful, Sam ?” he inquired, as they started for their walk; “I think it must be, because I've learnt a poetry-bit that says a river is very beautiful indeed.”
“ Don't know whether it's pretty or not,” replied Sam, who, poor boy! had never been taught to admire anything. “ I don't know, and don't care.”
Willie looked the surprise he felt.
Why, what a queer boy you are !" continued Sam ; why ever should you care whether a river and them sort of things are pretty or not."
“Oh, I don't know. 'Cause I like to look at them when they're pretty, I suppose. The sky, now, that's pretty; and so 's the stars. I do hope,” added Willie, speaking half to himself, “ I do hope mother will remember to see if there is the same stars in India as here."
“I say, Bill, what a long time your mother's been away, ain't she ?"
“ Yes," said Willie, faintly. “I wish she'd write. But she isn't much of a writer, and that's why she doesn't, I suppose.”
“ I suppose so; if there hasn't nothing happened to her. Come up, I say.” And Sam gave his deaf and dumb brother a tremendous pull by the arm.
“Oh, don't !" cried William, “you've made him cry. Don't, don't please, pull him so hard."
“ What does he lag behind so for then? I can't think what's come to him to-day. He's as cross as two sticks; mother said so herself, but she thought going out would do him good.”
“ How nice it would be if he could go to the asylum uncle wants to get him into, wouldn't it Sam ? He'd learn fingertalking then, uncle says.” “Yes, and he wouldn't be such a bother. Take hold of him, Billy, he'll walk with you better than me. Just take hold of him."
Willie attempted to do so, but David snatched his hand
away, and sinking down in front of some railings, put his hand up to his head, and began to cry.
" He's ill !” said Willie.
“I suppose he must be,” said Sam. “What a bore! We shall have to take him back, and that will hinder so. Let's see if we can make out what's the matter with him.” They bent over David, and finding, from the signs he made, that he was unable to walk any farther, they pulled him up, and dragged him home between them.
“ I don't expect we shall find anybody here,” said Sam, lifting the latch of his mother's door.
- No; all's out, you see, except Mrs. O'Connor upstairs. I heard mother say she was going out directly, and didn't mean to be home till six.”
“Yes, and she's taken Rhody with her, too. I say, Sam, couldn't I just go and ask Mrs. O'Connor to look after Davey, he looks so very queer.”
“Why, he does certainly,” said Sam, glancing at his brother, who had thrown himself upon the floor, as if in pain. “But don't you go after Mrs. O'Connor, you'll catch it finely
such a cross old thing as she is ! Come along, the fire's out, and Davey can't hurt if he is left alone. Come, I say, or the afternoon will be half gone, and we shan't get to Lambeth before dark."
Why did Willie stop so suddenly as he was following his cousin ? He had remembered the manner in which the good Samaritan had acted, and it struck him that he was not doing likewise. “Oh, dear! Davey is looking after us," he cried, “I don't know as we ought to leave him. Mother never left poor
father when he was ill." Sam did not trouble himself to argue the point, "he wasn't going to stay at home, that was all he knew," he said, “but of course if Bill didn't care for the steam-boat “Oh, but you
know I do care for the steam-boat,” cried Willie, piteously, “only
“Well, if you do, come along then. Oh, if you can't settle, I'm off.” And Sam banged out of the house. Poor Willie ! though he had the resolution of a man, and of a very strong man, he was a child still in thought and feeling, and when the last sound of his cousin's heavy footsteps had died away, he could not help bursting into tears. Davey looked
do ; if you