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inclined the glass so much that the air escaped
from the cell, the water flowed in, and before
information of the circumstance was given the
dormant inmate had perished. This catastrophe
admits of an easy explanation: for the torpid
spider could not make another cell, and vas
therefore found drowned.

I recently obtained and kept a water spider,
and my observations may help to complete those
recorded by Mr. Blackwell. One beautiful morning
last September, exploring the river banks
above Lewes, in Sussex, with a party of
naturalists, I detected an Argyroneta in a bottleful of
fresh-water plants belonging to one of my
comrades. This silvery spider one of us kept for
several weeks in a small bottle, and it also soon
formed a cell for itself, but one somewhat different
from the dome-shaped bell of the books. Just
under the surface of the water it formed an oblong
egg-shaped bubble of air about six-eighths of
an inch long and five-eighths broad. The wall
of the air-bubble was not formed of silk from
the spinners but of a saliva or secretion from
the mouth. This fact I observed particularly,
and several pairs of younger eyes than mine
confirmed my observations. When going out of this
bubble the spider was very careful to open a
passage, not beneath, but at the side, in the wall,
without allowing the air to escape, and it was
equally cautious in enteringissuing and entering
slowly, so as to give the wall time to
close up the hole which it did by contracting
upon it. This observation of mine, I
submit, seems to show that the water spider
has a faculty never suspected before of forming
an air-bubble in the water. This air
bubble is not temporary, but fixed and
permanent, and is a home. The bubble-home is
not blown, it is made, the secretion forming the
wall, and the spider carrying successive supplies
of gas from the surface down into it. Does the
silver spider make two different dwellings one
a cup-like-web, woven by the spinners, and used
as a hatching-nest or nursery, and the other an
egg-shaped bubble, the wall of which is secreted
by the mouth, which is used as a hunting-lodge,
or pirate's retreat?

Notonecta and Argyroneta and other insects
and spiders can silver-plate themselves with air,
as I have repeatedly said, by fastening globules
of it to the hairs of their bodies, and, long as
this fact has been noticed, no satisfactory
explanation of it has yet been given, if the task
has ever been attempted. The light passing
through the water is reflected by the air-globules,
and hence, probably, the brilliance. But the
facts are well worthy of investigation and
explanation. Everybody has noticed the effect of
water in deepening the colour of hair; a chevelure
which from the mixture of white is grey
when dry, looking brown when wet. Observers
have recorded their admiration of the changes
in the appearance of the water-lily and lotus
when sprinkled or immersed. Water rolls off
the upper surface of the leaf of the lily, and
when the leaf is pressed down, the water
perforates it through the stomata. If the leaf is
held under the water at an angle of forty-five
degrees, the dark purple leaf of the red lily
seems to become of a pinkish hue, the dark or
bluish-green leaf of the white, pink, and blue
lilies, becomes emerald greenthe intensity of
the hues varying with the angle at which the
immersed leaf is seen. Under the water the
lotus-leaf reflects light like a mirror of polished
metal. When water is thrown upon the surface
of a floating leaf it flows off like a pool of
quicksilver, reflecting light from the whole of its
lower surface. This fact has furnished a
comparison to a Mahratta poet; for singing of the
virtuous man he says:

He is not enslaved by any lust whatever;
By the stain of passion he is not soiled
As in the water, yet unwet by the water,
Is the lotus-leaf.

"On examining carefully into the cause of
this," says Dr. George Buist, of Bombay, " I
found the lotus-leaf covered with short
microscopic papillæ which entangle the air and establish
an air plate over the whole surface, with
which, in reality, the water never comes in
contact at all." A little floating water-plant,
abounding in the shallow tanks of Bombay,
called Pestia, and resembling common endive,
when pushed under the water looks like a tiny
mass of burnished silver. This repelling power
of leaves is said to be the cause of the pearl-
lustre of dew.

When diving-birds dash into the water, this
silvery lustre gleams upon their backs and wings.
Dr. Buist does not think this is owing to ,the
presence of oil or grease, but to an air-plate
repelling the water and preventing it from coming
into contact with the feathers. Is the preening,
that operation which is so carefully performed
by water-fowl, a process of preparing the fibres
of the feathers for entangling air? The reflexion
is the proof of non-contact. This is the water-
proof process of nature, which, instead of
obstructing respiration, like the water-proof
contrivances of man, promotes it. Thus this
faculty, it appears, of entangling air is common
to the hair of certain plants and animals,
producing lovely apparitions in the water of silvery
insects, spiders, leaves, and birds. What is it
which gives this power to hairs and feathers?
Have the hairs an electrical attraction for
globules of oxygen gas?


TRAVELLERS' Tales have always been notorious
for their lies. And no wonder. For ever
since Plinythe Illustrious Pliny he is generally
calledcatalogued the most monstrous fables
he could get hold of, and set them down as
actualities, living, proved, and true, every early
traveller seemed to think it his duty to confirm all
that the Illustrious had declared to be sound
science and the best wisdom, and in many
instances clinched his confirmation of the wildest
impossibilities by these words: "These eyes did
see." No one liked to be outdone, or to confess

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