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"Grandma," said Ralph, "what did Uncle James go to Borneo for?"

"Well, I declare," answered Grandma; "who ever said that anybody ever
went anywhere?"

"You did, Grandma, you know you did; you're trying now to get out of
telling me a story."

"But telling you what he went to Borneo for isn't a story."

"No; but it's a good start for one," insisted Ralph.

"Well, then, he went there for his health, I believe," answered Grandma.

"What was the trouble with his health?"

"The doctor said he had indigestion."

"So he went to Borneo, did he?"


"But you are _so_ tantalizing, Grandma. Why is Borneo good for

"Well, the doctor advised him to exercise by riding horseback. He told
your uncle that the shaking up which it would give him would be good for
him. But he didn't like to ride, so he went to Borneo instead."

"Well, I don't understand it at all," and Ralph drew a long breath and
looked deeply perplexed.

"Why, you see the earthquakes there come so often that they keep a
person bouncing up and down just as if he were riding horseback all the
time - so your uncle said. He would often tell, too, of what a good place
it was to sleep, because there are three or four earthquakes every night
which toss you up and turn you over and save you the trouble."

"I don't hardly _think_ I'd like it," said Ralph.

"Perhaps not," returned Grandma. "It makes some people nervous. He said
himself that it was the most fidgety and excitable island that he was
ever on. It would be a good place to play jackstones - don't you think
so? - the earthquake would toss 'em for you, and all you'd have to do
would be to hold out your hand and look on."

Ralph smiled a little, then he said, "_Now_ tell me the story about
Uncle James and Borneo."

"Oh, dear; I thought perhaps you'd forgotten that. Well, you know Borneo
is full of wild animals - lions and tigers and leopards and hyenas and
jackals and ant-eaters and chimpanzees and - "

"What are jimpansies?" asked Ralph.

"Chimpanzees are a big kind of monkey - you've seen pictures of them.
Your uncle James noticed that during every earthquake the animals were
shaken all over the country. They would go rattling and rolling around
on the ground everywhere, like pop-corn in a popper. He looked at the
wild-animal-market reports in the newspapers and saw that they brought
good prices to sell to circuses and park museums, so he made up his mind
to catch a few ship-loads and send them back to this country.

"The first thing he did was to hire a hundred Chinamen. He set them at
work digging a big hole in the ground. He made it two hundred feet long,
a hundred feet wide, and twenty-five feet deep; and when it was all done
he went home to his bamboo house and waited for a big earthquake. In a
day or two one came. It shook the animals out of the woods till the
ground was all covered with them, rolling about everywhere. There was
every kind of animal, from wild dogs and porcupines to elephants and
hippopotami. They soon began to roll into the hole, and as the
earthquake kept on it gradually filled up. Pretty soon it was full, and
ferocious and bloodthirsty beasts were boiling up out of it just like
foam out of a glass of soda-water - so I remember your uncle said. Then
just as the earthquake stopped he went out with the Chinamen and put a
big net over the hole, and staked it down all around; and there he had a
hundred thousand bushels of fresh wild animals.

"As soon as he could, your uncle began to take out the animals and load
them into freight cars to ship to the coast. He didn't get them out any
too soon, either, because the earthquake had rattled all of the little
ones to the bottom and the big ones to the top, and the little fellows
were pretty nearly smothered. One chimpanzee was so cross over being
squeezed that he hit an orang-outang on the nose, and if the men hadn't
separated them there would have been a serious fight. There were a few
natives mixed with the animals, so your uncle said; but he sorted them
out very carefully, because he didn't want the folks he sold them to to
say that he was trying to adulterate his animals with natives."

"That's a very _interesting_ story," said Ralph, "but it seems to me
that it is a pretty hard story to believe."

"It seems that way to me, too," replied Grandma. "But I suppose that is
because we never travelled in distant lands. Perhaps when you grow up
you can go to Borneo and see if you can find the hole in which your
uncle caught the animals."

H. C.

At a recent School Board examination in India, where the task was an
essay to be written on boys, the following was handed in by a girl of
twelve years:

"The boy is not an animal, yet they can be heard to a considerable
distance. When a boy hollers he opens his big mouth like frogs; but
girls hold their tongue till they are spoke too, and then they answer
respectable and tell just how it was. A boy thinks himself clever
because he can wade where it is deep; but God made the dry land for
every living thing, and rested on the seventh day. When the boy grows up
he is called a husband, and then he stops wading, but the grew-up girl
is a widow and keeps house."

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Round Table, August 27, 1895 → online text (page 7 of 7)