Stránka:tales 1921.djvu/207

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TALE 76

The Horsetail and the Jungle

Long, long ago, millions of years ago, this world was much hotter than it is now. Yes, in mid-winter it was hotter than it is now in mid-summer. Over all Pennsylvania there were huge forests of things that looked a little like palms, but some looked like pipes with joints, and had wheels of branches or limb wheels at every joint. They were as tall as some palms, and grew in swamps.

When one of those big joint-wheels fell over, it sank into the mud and was forgotten. So at last the swamp was filled up solid with their trunks.

Then for some unknown reason all the big joint-trees died, and the sand, mud, and gravel levelled off the swamp. There they lay, and slowly become blacker and harder under the mud, until they turned into coal.

That is what we bum to-day, the trunks of the wheel-jointed swamp trees. But their youngest great-grandchild is still with us, and shows, in its small way, what its great ancestors were like.

You will find it along some railway bank, or in any damp woods. Country people who know it, call it Joint Grass or Horsetails; the books call it Equisetum. The drawing will show you what to look for.

Gather a handful and take them home. Then get some of the moss known as ground-pine, a small piece of glass (the Guide should see that the edges of the glass are well rubbed with a stone, to prevent cutting the fingers), a cigar box, and white paste or putty, as in the Monkey-hunt.

Make a pool with the glass, and banks around it of the paste. Now cover these banks with the ground pine; using a little glue on the under side of each piece, but leave an ..text continues