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pegs, which are bound together and supported by the upright bamboo, this ladder is much safer that it looks at first sight, and it is made with wonderful rapidity. When a path goes up a steep hill over smooth ground, bamboo steps are often laid down to prevent slipping while carrying heavy loads. These are made with uniform lengths of stout bamboo in which opposite notches are cut at each end just within a joint. These notches allow strong bamboo pegs to be driven through into the ground, thus keeping the steps securely in place. The masts and yards of native vessels are almost always formed of bamboo, as it combines lightness, strength, and elasticity in an unequalled degree. Two or three large bamboos also form the best outriggers to canoes on account of their great buoyancy. They also serve to form rafts; and in the city of Palembang in Sumatra there is a complete street of floating houses supported on rafts formed of huge bundles of bamboos. Bridges across streams or to carry footpaths along the face of precipices are constructed by the Dyaks of Borneo wholly of bamboos, and some of these are very ingeniously hung from overhanging trees by diagonal rods of bamboo, so as to form true suspension bridges. The flooring of Malay houses is almost always of bamboo, but is constructed in a variety of ways. Generally large bamboos are used, split lengthways twice and the pieces tied down with rattan. This forms a grated floor, slightly elastic, and very pleasant to the barefooted natives. A superior floor is sometimes formed of slabs, which are made from very stout bamboos cut into lengths of about three or four feet and split down one side. The joints are then deeply and closely notched all
round with a sharp chopping-knife, so that the piece can be unrolled as it were and pressed flat, when it forms a hard board with a natural surface which, with a little wear, becomes beautifully smooth and polished. Blinds, screens, and mats, are formed of bamboos in a variety of ways, sometimes of thin kinds crushed flat and plaited, but more frequently of narrow strips connected together with cords of bamboo-bark or rattan. Strips of bamboo supported on cross-pieces form an excellent bed, which from its elasticity supplies the purpose of a mattress as well, and only requires a mat laid over it to insure a comfortable night's repose. Every kind of basket, too, is made of bamboo, from the coarsest heavy kinds to such as are fine and ornamental. In such countries as Lombock and Macassar, where the land is much cultivated and timber scarce, entire houses are built of bamboo, posts, walls, floors, and roofs all being constructed of this one material; and perhaps in no other way can so elegant and well-finished a house be built so quickly and so cheaply. Almost every kind of furniture is also made of the same material, excellent bamboo chairs, sofas, and bedsteads being made in the Moluccas, which, for appearance combined with cheapness, are probably unsurpassed in the world. A chair costs sixpence, and a sofa two shillings. Among simpler uses, bamboos are admirably adapted for water-vessels. Some of the lighter sorts are cut into lengths of about five feet, a small hole being knocked through the septa of the joints. This prevents the water from running out too quickly, and facilitates its being poured out in a regulated stream to the last drop. Three or four of these water-vessels are tied together and carried on the back, and they stand very conveniently in a corner of the hut. Water pipes and aqueducts are also readily made from bamboo tubes supported at intervals on two smaller pieces tied crosswise. In this way a stream of water is often conveyed from some distance to the middle of a village. Measures for rice or palm-wine, drinking-vessels, and waterdippers, are to be found almost ready-made in a joint of bamboo ; and when fitted with a cap or lid they form tobacco or tinder-boxes. Perches for parrots with food and water vessels are easily made out of a single piece of bamboo, while with a little more labour elegant bird-cages are constructed. In Timor a musical instrument is formed from a single joint of a large bamboo, by carefully raising seven strips of the hard skin to form strings, which remain attached at both ends and are elevated by small pegs wedged underneath, the strings being prevented from splitting off by a strongly-plaited ring of a similar material bound round each end. An opening cut on one side allows the bamboo to vibrate in musical notes when the harp-like strings are sharply pulled with the fingers. In Java strips of bamboo supported on stretched strings and struck with a small stick produce the higher notes in the “gamelung” or native band, which consists mainly of sets of gongs and metallic plates of various sizes. Almost all the common Chinese paper is made from the foliage and stems of some species of bamboo, while the young shoots, as they first spring out of the ground, are an excellent vegetable, quite equal to artichokes. Single joints of bamboo make excellent cooking-vessels while on a journey. Rice can be boiled in them to perfection, as well as fish and vegetables. They serve too for jars in which to preserve sugar, salt, fruit, molasses, and cooked provisions; and for the Smoker, excellent pipes and hookahs can be formed in a few minutes out of properly chosen joints of bamboo. These are only a sample of the endless purposes to which the bamboo is applied in the countries of which it is a native, its chief characteristic being that in a few minutes it can be put to uses which, if ordinary wood were used, would require hours or even days of labour. There is also a regularity and a finish about it which is found in hardly any other woody plant; and its smooth and symmetrically ringed surface gives an appearance of fitness and beauty to its varied applications. On the whole, we may perhaps consider it as the greatest boon which nature gives to the natives of the Eastern tropics. Mangroves.—Among the forms of plants which are sure to attract attention in the tropics are the mangroves, which grow between tide-marks on coasts and estuaries. These are low trees with widely-spreading branches and a network of aerial roots a few feet above the ground; but their most remarkable peculiarity is, that their fruits germinate on the tree, sending out roots and branches before falling into the muddy soil—a completely formed plant. In some cases the root reaches the ground before the seed above falls off. These trees greatly aid the formation of new land, as the mass of aerial roots which arch out from the stem to a considerable distance collects mud and floating refuse, and so raises and consolidates the shore; while the young plants often dropping from the farthest extremity of the branches, rapidly extend the domain of vegetation to the farthest possible limits. The branches, too, send down slender roots like those of the banyan, and become independent trees. Thus a complete woody labyrinth is formed ; and the network of tough roots and stems resists the action of the tides, and enables the mud brought down by great tropical rivers to be converted into solid land far more rapidly than it could be without this aid. Sensitive-plants.-Among the more humble forms of . vegetation that attract the traveller's notice none are more interesting than the sensitive species of Mimosa. These are all natives of South America, but one species, Mimosa pudica, has spread to Africa and Asia, so that sensitive-plants now abound as wayside weeds in many parts both of the eastern and western tropics, sometimes completely carpeting the ground with their delicate foliage. Where a large surface of ground is thus covered the effect of walking over it is most peculiar. At each step the plants for some distance round suddenly droop, as if struck with paralysis, and a broad track of prostrate herbage, several feet wide, is distinctly marked out by the different colour of the closed leaflets. The explanation of this phenomenon, given by botanists, is not very satisfactory;' while the purpose or use of the peculiarity is still more mysterious, seeing that out of about two hundred species belonging to this same genus Mimosa, only some three or four are sensitive, and in the whole vegetable kingdom there are no other plants which possess more than the rudiments of a similar property.