Gust elastic is one of the principal exports of the city of Para, Brazil, and one of its most valuable commodities. It is there called borracka. The use of this gum was learned from the Omagus, a tribe of Brazilian Indians. The savages used it in the form of bottles, and it was their custom to present one of these bottles to every guest at the opening of one of their feasts.

The Portuguese settlers in Para were the first who profited by putting it to use in the making of boots and other garments. It was specially useful for such a rainy country. But lately the gum has been improved by manufacturers, and put to a greater variety of uses, so that it is now an advantage not only to Brazil, but to the whole world. It is the production of a tree called siphoni elastica, which grows to the height of eighty and often to one hundred feet. 

The lower part of the trunk is usually without any branches, the top is spreading, with its beautiful glossy foliage toward the sun.  On the slightest incision, the gum exudes, resembling a rich cream. The trees are mostly tapped in the morning, and about a cup of the liquid is procured from one opening in a day. It is first caught in small vessels made out of clay, moulded for the purpose by the hand, and then poured into large jars. It is ready for use as soon as it comes from the tree, and is made into different forms after models formed of clay. 

When people make shoes or boots they find it cheaper to have lasts of wood, which are covered with clay, so that the article may be easily withdrawn. These lasts have handles that the work may be done more neatly and with greater speed. The liquid is poured over the mold and a thin coating sticks to it. The gum is then dried, darkened, and hardened by being exposed to a smoke made by burning the fruit of the wassou-palm. When one covering becomes hard, another is put on and smoked, and then another, until they get as many thicknesses as they want. Then the articles are exposed to the sun's rays, after which they are ornamented to suit the tastes of the workmen. When ready for exportation, they are stuffed with leaves or dried grass to keep them in shape.

Such goods are extensively manufactured in the vicinity of Para, where are whole plantations of these trees. The gum can be gathered through the whole year; but May, June, July, and August are the best months for getting it. It is one of the best exports of the country, and grows in inexhaustible quantities. The tree is beautiful, and is one of the greatest ornaments of the Amazonian forests, yet withal it is profitable and useful to the entire world.

When you wear your comfortable "gum shoes" next time, think of what I have told you about the gum elastic procured in the forests of the Amazon. Because of the good providence of the great Creator in making this provision, you are protected from an exposure which might bring to you serious discomfort and danger. 

Child's World.