Mr. Harvey's library, as I have already told you, was very large. He spent much time in the room where it was, either reading or writing. In the afternoon, after the boys had gathered the corn, he called them into this room, and showed them some beautiful pictures of animals and countries. While looking at them, Samuel asked him if he thought every animal had been made for some useful purpose.
"Yes, my boy," answered his uncle; "we have reason to believe that even things which appear to be entirely useless, such as gravel stones, or weeds, have been made by God for some good end. The more we learn about animals and plants, the more plainly this appears. I will show you the picture of a very curious animal, called a Sloth. It looks a little like a bear. Now listen, boys, to a few words about this animal. It lives in thick, gloomy forests, so that it can scarcely ever be taken. When placed on the ground it cannot walk, but drags itself forward, with its fore legs, crying all the time, as if in great pain. Its claws are long, and turn up under its feet. In the woods it lives all the time on the trees, hanging from a branch, with its back toward the ground. Tell me what you think of such an animal."
"I think it must be miserable all day long," replied Samuel.
"So everyone thought, about fifty years ago," said Mr. Harvey; but men who have gone to the countries where sloths are, and seen them in the high trees, tell a very different story. They say that the sloth's home is in the branches, as much as a fish's is in the water; and he is there a strong and happy animal, although he looks so weak and miserable on the ground. He lives on fruit, and moves from one branch and one tree to another, with considerable swiftness. So you see that the sloth enjoys himself as well as any of us; and I have no doubt that he was created for some good purpose, although we may not be able to understand precisely what it is.
"But do not some animals eat each other?" asked Thomas.
"Yes," replied Mr. Harvey; "but this is of great use to man. What would the farmer do with all the insects that destroy his grain, if many of them were not eaten by little birds; and how much of his fruit would these very birds destroy, if they, too, were not eaten by hawks! If animals did not destroy each other, they would soon become so numerous as to crowd man from the earth."