Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
to get started!
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 30

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 31
    Previous Chapter
    Nature makes the locust with an appetite for crops; man would have made
    him with an appetite for sand.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    We spent part of an afternoon and a night at sea, and reached Bluff, in
    New Zealand, early in the morning. Bluff is at the bottom of the middle
    island, and is away down south, nearly forty-seven degrees below the
    equator. It lies as far south of the line as Quebec lies north of it,
    and the climates of the two should be alike; but for some reason or other
    it has not been so arranged. Quebec is hot in the summer and cold in the
    winter, but Bluff's climate is less intense; the cold weather is not very
    cold, the hot weather is not very hot; and the difference between the
    hottest month and the coldest is but 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In New Zealand the rabbit plague began at Bluff. The man who introduced
    the rabbit there was banqueted and lauded; but they would hang him, now,
    if they could get him. In England the natural enemy of the rabbit is
    detested and persecuted; in the Bluff region the natural enemy of the
    rabbit is honored, and his person is sacred. The rabbit's natural enemy
    in England is the poacher, in Bluff its natural enemy is the stoat, the
    weasel, the ferret, the cat, and the mongoose. In England any person
    below the Heir who is caught with a rabbit in his possession must
    satisfactorily explain how it got there, or he will suffer fine and
    imprisonment, together with extinction of his peerage; in Bluff, the cat
    found with a rabbit in its possession does not have to explain--everybody
    looks the other way; the person caught noticing would suffer fine and
    imprisonment, with extinction of peerage. This is a sure way to
    undermine the moral fabric of a cat. Thirty years from now there will
    not be a moral cat in New Zealand. Some think there is none there now.
    In England the poacher is watched, tracked, hunted--he dare not show his
    face; in Bluff the cat, the weasel, the stoat, and the mongoose go up and
    down, whither they will, unmolested. By a law of the legislature, posted
    where all may read, it is decreed that any person found in possession of
    one of these creatures (dead) must satisfactorily explain the
    circumstances or pay a fine of not less than L5, nor more than L20. The
    revenue from this source is not large. Persons who want to pay a hundred
    dollars for a dead cat are getting rarer and rarer every day. This is
    bad, for the revenue was to go to the endowment of a University. All
    governments are more or less short-sighted: in England they fine the
    poacher, whereas he ought to be banished to New Zealand. New Zealand
    would pay his way, and give him wages.

    It was from Bluff that we ought to have cut across to the west coast and
    visited the New Zealand Switzerland, a land of superb scenery, made up of
    snowy grandeurs, anal mighty glaciers, and beautiful lakes; and over
    there, also, are the wonderful rivals of the Norwegian and Alaskan
    fiords; and for neighbor, a waterfall of 1,900 feet; but we were obliged
    to postpone the trip to some later and indefinite time.

    November 6. A lovely summer morning; brilliant blue sky. A few miles
    out from Invercargill, passed through vast level green expanses snowed
    over with sheep. Fine to see. The green, deep and very vivid sometimes;
    at other times less so, but delicate and lovely. A passenger reminds me
    that I am in "the England of the Far South."

    Dunedin, same date. The town justifies Michael Davitt's praises.
    The people are Scotch. They stopped here on their way from home to
    heaven-thinking they had arrived. The population is stated at 40,000, by
    Malcolm Ross, journalist; stated by an M. P. at 60,000. A journalist
    cannot lie.

    To the residence of Dr. Hockin. He has a fine collection of books
    relating to New Zealand; and his house is a museum of Maori art and
    antiquities. He has pictures and prints in color of many native chiefs
    of the past--some of them of note in history. There is nothing of the
    savage in the faces; nothing could be finer than these men's features,
    nothing more intellectual than these faces, nothing more masculine,
    nothing nobler than their aspect. The aboriginals of Australia and
    Tasmania looked the savage, but these chiefs looked like Roman
    patricians. The tattooing in these portraits ought to suggest the
    savage, of course, but it does not. The designs are so flowing and
    graceful and beautiful that they are a most satisfactory decoration. It
    takes but fifteen minutes to get reconciled to the tattooing, and but
    fifteen more to perceive that it is just the thing. After that, the
    undecorated European face is unpleasant and ignoble.

    Dr. Hockiu gave us a ghastly curiosity--a lignified caterpillar with a
    plant growing out of the back of its neck--a plant with a slender stem 4
    inches high. It happened not by accident, but by design--Nature's
    design. This caterpillar was in the act of loyally carrying out a law
    inflicted upon him by Nature--a law purposely inflicted upon him to get
    him into trouble--a law which was a trap; in pursuance of this law he
    made the proper preparations for turning himself into a night-moth; that
    is to say, he dug a little trench, a little grave, and then stretched
    himself out in it on his stomach and partially buried himself--then
    Nature was ready for him. She blew the spores of a peculiar fungus
    through the air with a purpose. Some of them fell into a crease in the
    back of the caterpillar's neck, and began to sprout and grow--for there
    was soil there--he had not washed his neck. The roots forced themselves
    down into the worm's person, and rearward along through its body, sucking
    up the creature's juices for sap; the worm slowly died, and turned to
    wood. And here he was now, a wooden caterpillar, with every detail of
    his former physique delicately and exactly preserved and perpetuated, and
    with that stem standing up out of him for his monument--monument
    commemorative of his own loyalty and of Nature's unfair return for it.

    Nature is always acting like that. Mrs. X. said (of course) that the
    caterpillar was not conscious and didn't suffer. She should have known
    better. No caterpillar can deceive Nature. If this one couldn't suffer,
    Nature would have known it and would have hunted up another caterpillar.
    Not that she would have let this one go, merely because it was defective.
    No. She would have waited and let him turn into a night-moth; and then
    fried him in the candle.

    Nature cakes a fish's eyes over with parasites, so that it shan't be able
    to avoid its enemies or find its food. She sends parasites into a
    star-fish's system, which clog up its prongs and swell them and make them
    so uncomfortable that the poor creature delivers itself from the prong to
    ease its misery; and presently it has to part with another prong for the
    sake of comfort, and finally with a third. If it re-grows the prongs,
    the parasite returns and the same thing is repeated. And finally, when
    the ability to reproduce prongs is lost through age, that poor old
    star-fish can't get around any more, and so it dies of starvation.

    In Australia is prevalent a horrible disease due to an "unperfected
    tapeworm." Unperfected--that is what they call it, I do not know why,
    for it transacts business just as well as if it were finished and
    frescoed and gilded, and all that.

    November 9. To the museum and public picture gallery with the president
    of the Society of Artists. Some fine pictures there, lent by the S. of
    A. several of them they bought, the others came to them by gift. Next,
    to the gallery of the S. of A.--annual exhibition--just opened. Fine.
    Think of a town like this having two such collections as this, and a
    Society of Artists. It is so all over Australasia. If it were a
    monarchy one might understand it. I mean an absolute monarchy, where it
    isn't necessary to vote money, but take it. Then art flourishes. But
    these colonies are republics--republics with a wide suffrage; voters of
    both sexes, this one of New Zealand. In republics, neither the
    government nor the rich private citizen is much given to propagating art.
    All over Australasia pictures by famous European artists are bought for
    the public galleries by the State and by societies of citizens. Living
    citizens--not dead ones. They rob themselves to give, not their heirs.
    This S. of A. here owns its buildings built it by subscription.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 31
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Mark Twain essay and need some advice, post your Mark Twain essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?