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It may seem strange at the present day that the absolutism of the king did not bring about a widespread rebellion earlier than it did. One of the chief causes of his strength is to be found in the bands of mercenary soldiers which he maintained, ready to do any bidding at a moment's notice, under the command of men who were entirely his creatures, like Gerald of Athies, a peasant of Touraine, who with some of his fellows was thought worthy of mention by name in the Great Charter. The cost of keeping these bands devoted to his service was no doubt one of the large expenses of the reign. Another fact of greater permanent interest that helped to keep up the king's power is the lack of unity among the barons, of any feeling of a common cause, but rather the existence of jealousies, and open conflicts even, which made it impossible to bring them together in united action in their own defence. The fact is of especial importance because it was the crushing tyranny of John that first gave rise to the feeling of corporate unity in the baronage, and the growth of this feeling is one of the great facts of the thirteenth century.

Tree-frogs have, of course, in most circumstances much greater difficulty in getting at water than pond-frogs; and this is especially true in certain tropical or desert districts. Hence most of the frogs which inhabit such regions have had to find out or invent some ingenious plan for passing through the tadpole stage with a minimum of moisture. The devices they have hit upon are very curious. Some of them make use of the little pools collected at the bases of huge tropical leaf-stalks, like those of the banana plant; others dispense with the aid of water altogether, and glue their new-laid eggs to their own backs, where the fry pass through the tadpole stage with the slimy mucus which surrounds them. Nature always discovers such cunning schemes to get over apparent difficulties in her way: and the tree-frogs have solved the problem for themselves in half a dozen manners in different localities. Oddest of all, perhaps, is the dodge invented by "Darwin's frog," a Chilean species, in which the male swallows the eggs as soon as laid, and gulps them into the throat-pouch beneath his capacious neck: there they hatch out and pass through their tadpole stage: and when at last they arrive at frogly maturity, they escape into the world through the mouth of their father.

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