“Curious!” said Willis.
“Animals, however, are sometimes oviparous.”
“Oviparous?” inquired Willis.
“Yes, that is, they lay eggs; others are viviparous, producing their young alive. A few are multiplied like plants by cuttings, as in the case of the polypi.”
“Bother the polypi,” said Willis, laughing, “since we have to thank them for destroying some of his Majesty’s ships.”
“Then again,” continued Becker, “both plants and animals are subject to disease, decay, and death.”
“But, father, if the analogies are remarkable, the differences are not less marked.”
“Well, Ernest, I shall leave you to point them out.”
“Without reckoning the faculty of feeling, that cannot be denied to the one nor granted to the other, the most striking of these distinctions consists in the circumstance that animals can change place, whilst this faculty is absolutely refused to plants.”
“If we except those,” remarked Jack, “that insist upon travelling to the succulent parts of the earth, and are as indefatigable in digging tunnels as the renowned Brunel.”
“Then plants are obliged to accept the nourishment that their fixed position furnishes to them; whilst animals, on the contrary, by means of their external organs, can range far and near in search of the aliments most congenial to their appetites.”
“Which is often very capricious,” remarked Willis.
“Then, considered with regard to magnitude, the two kingdoms present remarkable distinctions; the interval between a whale and a mite is greater than between the moss and the oak.”
“Ho!” cried Jack, “there is Miss Sophia coming to meet us, Willis.”
“Perhaps they have news at the grotto.”
“Well,” inquired the child, “have you seen them?”
“Good,” thought Becker, “our chatterers have not been able to hold their tongues; I am surprised at that as regards Frank.”
“We expected to have found them at Rockhouse.”
“To have found whom?”
“The sailors from the wreck.”
“I sincerely hope that the Nelson has not been wrecked.”
“In that case, whom do you refer to yourself, Miss Sophia?”
“To your go-cart and my doll, Master Jack.”
HABITANT OF THE MOON, ANTHROPOPHAGIAN OR HOBGOBLIN?—THE
STEW OF MADAME DACIER—UTILE DULCI—TETE-A-TETE BETWEEN WILLIS AND HIS
PIPE—TOBACCO VERSUS BIRCH—IS IT FOR EATING?—MOSQUITOES—THE
ALARM—TOBY—THE NOCTURNAL EXPEDITION—WE’VE GOT HIM.
Some days passed without anything having occurred to ruffle the tranquil existence of the island families. Every morning the elite of the sea and land forces continued to divide themselves into three squadrons of observation; one of which remained at Rockhouse on some pretext or other, whilst the other two were occupied in exploring the country, or in carrying on the works at Falcon’s Nest.