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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

Silkworms

Canton produces a lot of silk, and the Chinese can probably give some useful hints to boys who keep silkworms. Their mulberry “trees” are only small twigs and low bushes. They get seven crops of silk in the year. The silkworm is hatched out of a tiny grey egg by pouring warm water over it. A tiny black worm like a little bit of thread comes out. This they feed on chopped pieces of mulberry leaves. The worm takes twenty-eight days to grow up, during which it takes four long sleeps varying from twenty-four to forty-eight hours lazy little beggar! – and it casts its skin each time, because it grows too big for it. When fully grown it is about two inches long, an eighth of an inch thick, and whitish yellow in colour.

The worm spins out silk from its mouth to make the cocoon and then turns into a chrysalis inside.

When it is required to make silk, the cocoon is heated over a brazier of charcoal to kill the chrysalis, the cocoon is then boiled to take off the sticky, gummy part of it, and the silk thread is then wound off from it.

Water Clock

A very curious old contrivance is to be seen in Canton in the shape of a clock which regulates its time by water. It was started long before Christ was on earth and has been going ever since. It is very simple and any Scout could make one for himself.

It consists merely of a series of three tubs put on steps, one higher than another, and the water from the upper one is allowed to flow into the next below at a certain rate and from that into the lowest.

The lowest tub has a lid on it with a slit cut in it, and through this slit stands a brass slide on which the hours are marked. The lower end of this is fixed in a board which floats on the top of the water, and as the water in the urn rises so the slide comes up through the slit and shows each hour in succession.

The man in charge hangs up a board showing the hour outside the tower in which the clock stands, for the information of the public. It is an old-fashioned way of doing it, but it shows the time all the same and doesn’t cost much.

The Chinese Proficiency Test

One of the sights of Canton used to be the Examination Buildings. Here every year students came to pass their examination. They were given a certain subject on which to write a poem-essay. They were then shut up in a cell for three days. The one who succeeded best was given by way of a badge of proficiency a great big pole like the mast of a ship to stick up outside his home.

But the extraordinary part of the thing was the number of fellows who went up for the examination. The Examination Buildings included no fewer than 11,000 separate cells for competitors.

The revolution has done away with this; students will in future be expected to pass their examination in more useful subjects.

The City of the Dead

The City of the Dead is a curious place just outside the walls of Canton. It is like a miniature village with small streets of cells, all neatly and cleanly kept, and brightened with flowering plants.

Each cell or room is open to visitors and has a few seats and a table or altar, and behind this table a second chamber or recess in which stands a coffin.

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