New National Fourth Reader eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 203 pages of information about New National Fourth Reader.

Language Lesson.—­Let pupils rewrite the first paragraph of the lesson, changing past tenses to present tenses throughout.

What effect will this change have upon the meaning?

[19] This lesson, seventh paragraph from the end.

* * * * *

LESSON LXIII

ex ist’ing, living.

mas’sive large and solid.

hy e’na, a beast of prey.

cau’tion, great care.

strat’a gem, a secret way; trick.

de pends’, trusts to.

mar’vel ous, wonderful.

jack’al, a beast of prey.

pro cure’, obtain.

a dorn’, make beautiful.

* * * * *

THE OSTRICH.

The ostrich is the largest of all birds now existing, and is found chiefly in the sandy deserts of Africa and Arabia.

A full-grown African ostrich stands from seven to nine feet in height, to the top of its head, and will weigh from two to three hundred pounds.

The body of the ostrich is large and massive; the legs are long, measuring four feet or more, and the neck is of about the same length as the legs.

The head is small for so large a bird; but its feet with their two great toes are of good size, and possess astonishing strength.

An ostrich’s beak is short and blunt; its neck slender and covered with gray down.  Its eyes are large and bright, and the sense of sight so keen that it can readily see a distance of from four to six miles.  It hears and sees equally well, and can only be approached by stratagem.

The feathers of the male ostrich are of a glossy black, with the exception of the large plumes of the wing-feathers, which in both the male and female are snowy white.

To procure these beautiful white plumes is the chief object in hunting the ostrich.  Those plumes when plucked are sent to foreign countries, and used to adorn ladies’ hats, and for various other purposes.

The ostrich feeds on vegetable substances; but as an aid to digestion, it sometimes swallows stones, glass, paper, nails, and pieces of wood.

An incident is related of an ostrich on exhibition in Paris, swallowing a gold watch and chain.  A gentleman approached within reach of the beak of the bird, and, in the twinkling of an eye, the watch and chain were snatched from his pocket and swallowed.

Although the ostrich has wings, it can not fly—­it depends upon its strong legs and feet for speed, and can run much faster than a horse.

The strength of the ostrich is marvelous.  Its only weapon of defence is its long and muscular leg.

[Illustration.]

It is accustomed to kick directly forward, and it is said by those who have observed this habit, that a single blow from its gigantic two-toed foot is sufficient to kill a panther, a jackal, or a hyena.

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