"PLEASE do not forget that you have promised to tell us about the lion that lives in a pit, mamma," said Ernest. "The ant-lion, I think you called him; and why is he called an ant lion?"

"Because he preys upon ants," answered Mrs. Hey wood, "in the same way that real lions pray upon sheep and goats, and sometimes upon men and women. The ant lion is only the grub or larva of a winged insect. 

In this state it is very slow and awkward in its movements, so that it could never catch the quick and active little creatures it requires for food, if God had not taught it to make up by cleverness what it wants in activity. 

The parent insect carefully deposits her eggs upon light, sandy soil, so that when the young ant-lion is hatched, he finds himself in a position exactly suited to his purposes of digging a pit, or trap, by which means he hopes to catch his little victims." 

"But how does he manage to dig, mamma?"  "His feet and mouth answer all purposes of a spade," said the mother; "no gardener or architect could hollow out a pit better. His body is of a dusty gray color, composed of rings, and tapers to a point at the tail. He has six legs. The head is provided with a most terrible pair of jaws, half round, like a reaping hook, and toothed inside, that he may hold the prey firmly while sucking their blood. The ant lion traces a circle in the sand, generally about three inches in diameter (that means three inches across from one side to the other). This done, he gets inside this circle or ring, and with one of his legs shovels up a load of sand on the flat part of his head; and then, with a sudden jerk, he throws the whole some inches away. It is a curious fact," 

continued Mrs. Hey wood, "that when the little fellow has gone once round the ring, he returns just the opposite way, so as to use the leg on the other side for shoveling, and rest the one on which he began. When he meets with no stones, the ant-lion gets through his business with very little difficulty; but sometimes there are stones mixed up with the sand, and these cost him a great deal of trouble. 

If they are quite small, he lifts them upon his head, and jerks them over the side of the pit, as he did the sand; but when they are too large for this, he tries another plan. Crawling back ward to the place where the stone may be, he thrusts his tail underneath and gradually pushes it upon his back. 

This done, he marches slowly and carefully up the sides of his pit, and rolls off the great stone at the top."

"What a clever little creature I am sure he deserves his dinners and suppers, after taking so much pains."

"When the pit is really done, the ant-lion reaps the fruit of his labors. 

He knows well that other insects are as much afraid of him as you and I. would be of a real lion, so he completely hides himself under the sand at the bottom of his pit, and leaves nothing but the tips of his crooked jaws peeping out. Very soon an ant, who has been sent out on an exploring expedition, or some other little traveler, passes that way, and steps upon the edge of the pit, that he may see what there is to be seen below, he does not know that he will pay for his look with his life. The slippery and slides from under his feet, he tries to save himself, but only falls the faster, down, down into the very jaws of the lion below. Sometimes, however, it may happen that the poor little victim is able to stop himself half way, and in haste he will try to scramble back to the top. But the lion from the bottom of his den, with his six sharp eyes, has spied him out; and quick as thought he shovels heaps of sand upon his head, and throws them up one after another upon the runaway.

This destroys his last hope of escape; he cannot stand upon the slippery bank under the heavy sand-showers, and falls again, this time most likely within reach of the lion's jaws. 

If so, it is all over with him; he is pounced upon in a moment, and the ant lion holds him fast in his powerful jaws, while he sucks his blood at his leisure. When he has finished, he takes care to throw the dead body to some distance from his den, lest other insects, espying it, should guess there is a murderer below; and then he goes back to his hiding place to watch for more prey. The fierce grub lives thus for nearly two years, until he is fully grown, when he wraps himself up in a round ball of sand, fastened together by very fine silk which he spins on purpose. Here he remains for about three weeks, when he bursts forth, a pretty little insect, something like a dragon-fly in appearance." 

Christian at Work.

EVEN the humblest person, who sets before his fellows an example of industry, sobriety, and upright honesty of purpose in life, has a present as well as a future influence upon the well being of his country; for his life and character pass unconsciously into the lives of others, and propagate good example for all time to come.






AUNT LOIS heard a silvery laugh. She turned, and saw Ethel standing behind her.

"What is it?" asked Aunt Lois.

"I'm sure you'd laugh if you should see me looking so very long at a pile of sand!"

"I think not. I should at once think there was something besides sand in your box, or that you had found a diamond. There is something here more curious than a diamond."

"How did you make those circles—round as dollars?"

"I didn't make them. I will shake the box, and the floor of sand will be smooth. Then watch."

"Little trenches in a circle. They are traps. Pretty soon, if you keep still, you will see four of them. From the center of each (which you see is a low mound) you will see two of these amber threads '—two for each little trench-maker."

"What are those little black things in that corner of the box?"

"Dead witnesses to my cruelty. I am afraid you would call it so. I had some little neighbors that I enticed from their pretty, cool home and dainty table, and then gave them to hungry lions."

"Now you're teasing me, Aunt Lois."

"No. Come with me, and I will show you.  "Aunt Lois took her scissors and a small, corked vial, and Ethel followed while she went out in to the garden to an old pear-tree. She opened the vial, and with her scissors, knocked from the leaves half-a-dozen nimble ants. Back they went, and the ants were shaken out on to the sand. Aunt Lois laid a glass over the box so they could still see and the ants could not escape.

Then the mounds began to tremble, and crawl, and the amber threads to quiver, and pretty soon one ant, who ventured over the edge, and fell into the trench, was struck by a little shower of sand flirted from the ambuscade, and in a twinkling caught, and his life sucked out of him by the wary little fellow under the mound, and then his tiny black body was tossed away.

Soon another ant was showered with sand, caught, pierced, and thrown away.

"I shouldn't think you'd help them, anyway. They're awfully cruel!” "Martyrs to science," laughed Aunt Lois. "Everything that is known must be studied. In my box these four little fellows will kill perhaps fifty ants. Out in their own sand-bank homes they would probably kill a hundred times as many."

"What are they, at any rate "

"I told you I gave my little friends to the lions.

They are ant-lions, and called so because they are fond of ants for their prey. But they do something more curious than making trenches and showering ants with sand."

"Oh what is that?" asked Ethel.

"I will tell you in a few days—the next time you come up behind me and laugh to see me 'watching sand."

"But why can't you show me now"  "I couldn't, possibly. Not any more than I could hand you the moon tonight."

"Oh! Some change they've got to make. I don't see how you can wait, when you like to watch such things so much."

"Wait! Why, sometimes I have to wait forever. There's where your patience is to come in. I have often waited eight months when some little fellow had fed and watched for weeks went to sleep in a sly corner, and then when I've seen him wake up brighter and far prettier, and more handsomely dressed, I have been paid. But I have often waited that long and longer just to find they never would wake up. And that, too, when I did not. Then weren't you sorry you had watched and

waited at all?"

"No, indeed. I am very much interested in the first part of an insect's life, even if it never reaches the second. I have kept many a caterpillar so long and studied it so well that, although disappointed if it died before its second or pupa life, I yet was well paid for knowing that much about it. And so with its second life, if it never reaches the third or perfect life."

"Well, I should like to know what other life the ant-lion has. I suppose he doesn't always go walking backward, then?"

"No, indeed. He is like some people in that they, don't seem to do much but grovel in the sand, and walk backward, and people think they make little progress in the world; but if they are doing their best, one day someone will say of them, 'Why, they didn't always go walking backwards!"

About a week after this, Aunt Lois called Ethel to her room.

"Here is the sand box," she said. "I am ready for you to look again."

"They never did it!" exclaimed Ethel. "How did you make those marbles out of the sand?

How could you make them stay together in such round balls?"

"And now it was Aunt Lois's turn to laugh.

Ethel looked at her sharply to see if she was jesting with her, and said,—

"No, the ant-lions did it. I suppose they are living their second lives in those round houses."

"That is just it. They will never shovel anymore sand with their broad heads, or put their quick-gliding arms about unwary ants."

"What will they do?" asked Ethel, touching one of the sand marbles with her finger. "Why, it won't move ! It's glued tight in its place. So they all are! What will they do next? "

"I will call you again after a while. But as it will be longer before you will want to see the box again, just forget all about ant-lions, and run to your play and your lessons, and one of these days you shall have a better surprise than these pretty sand-marbles have given you."

When Ethel was called again, one of the little sand-marbles was broken, and something was buzzing and flying about in the box.

"Did that come out of that little ball where I see something sticking up in the top?"

"Yes, that is the pupa skin which it pushed up before it came out. There! see that next ball tremble.

Something is pushing up there. "And true enough, a second ant-lion slowly made its way out of a second ball. The next day all four were free, and Aunt Lois mounted them, and put the box of empty round houses carefully away.

Said Ethel, "I shall call the ant-lion Cinderella."




Christian Weekly.